Colonial the perfect next step for Spieth

May 22, 2019
Justin Ray

Despite missing out on last week’s ultimate prize, Jordan Spieth had to leave New York last week feeling pretty good about the state of his game. After all, a tie for third was his best finish worldwide since last year’s Masters – a span of more than 400 days.

Spieth led the field at Bethpage Black in strokes gained putting, racking up 2.66 strokes against the field per round. Second place in that statistic last week belonged to Luke List, at a comparatively modest 1.80. In fact, it was the single greatest strokes gained putting performance of Jordan’s PGA Tour career – and moved him to 11th on the PGA Tour in that statistic for the season.

Consider this, as well: Spieth is currently gaining 0.71 strokes per round on the greens this season. That is actually a better per-round average than his halcyon year of 2015, when he gained 0.57 strokes per round. In 2015, Jordan made 7.3% of his putts from outside 25 feet, and 31% of his putts from 10 to 15 feet. This season, he’s better in both statistics – 8.4% and 39%, respectively.

Spieth’s remarkable week putting at Bethpage masked some ball-striking issues. Only four players who made the cut last week hit fewer fairways than Spieth did. Jordan ranked 54th of players to make the cut in strokes gained off the tee and 59th in strokes gained approach. For the season, Jordan is in the bottom ten percentile of the Tour in driving accuracy and strokes gained driving. He’s 153rd in greens in regulation – a statistic he ranked 12th in just last season.

There probably isn’t a better place on the planet for Spieth to be playing this week than Colonial Country Club. Since making his debut here in 2013, Jordan leads all players in:

  • Scoring average (67.6)
  • Score to par (-57)
  • Birdies/eagles made (115)
  • Rounds in the 60’s (19)
  • Rounds of 67 or lower (12)

There are 419 players with at least ten rounds played in PGA Tour events at Colonial Country Club over the last 35 years. Of that group, only one player has a scoring average of 68 or lower: Spieth.

Spieth’s total of 57-under-par at Colonial since 2013 is 28 strokes better than any other player during that span.

As for that ultimate prize – the career grand slam – Jordan will take his fourth crack at completing it next year at Harding Park. Spieth will be only 26 at that time – the same age Jack Nicklaus was when he completed it.

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66 Years and Counting

Having hosted this tournament since 1946, Colonial Country Club holds the distinction of being the longest-running PGA Tour event held on the same golf course. But somehow, the tournament has not had a back-to-back winner in more than six decades. The only player to win at Colonial in back-to-back years is Ben Hogan, who did it last in 1952 & 1953. He also achieved the feat in 1946 and 1947.

There are two other PGA Tour events that have been held since at least 1975 and not seen a back-to-back champion in that time frame. One of them is The Players Championship, held since 1974 – and at TPC Sawgrass for each of the last 38 years. The other is the Wyndham Championship, which has not seen a back-to-back winner since Sam Snead in 1955 and 1956. That event, however, has been held at three different courses since then: Sedgefield Country Club, Starmount Forest and Forest Oaks.

This week features a strong opportunity to see a back-to-back champion: Justin Rose, who torched Colonial to the tune of 20-under-par last year, enters with three top-ten finishes in his last five starts. Rose, ranked fourth in 15th Club’s Performance Index, is currently the betting favorite to win this week at 10-to-1.

Notes on Players Headlining the Field

– More on Spieth: in 24 career rounds played in this tournament, he has beat the field scoring average 20 times. That includes seven different rounds when he beat the field by four strokes or more.

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–  Rose has averaged 4.3 birdies & eagles per round in his career at Colonial. Since 2000, that is second-best among players with at least twenty rounds played, trailing only Spieth.

– Jon Rahm makes his third career start at Colonial this week. His first two couldn’t have gone much better, as he finished tied for second and tied for fifth. Rahm’s missed cut at the PGA last week was his first in 18 worldwide starts, and just his eighth worldwide since turning professional in 2016. In that same span, he’s finished in the top-three 11 different times.

– No player has won in his first career start at Colonial since Sergio Garcia did it in 2001. Garcia’s Ryder Cup teammate, Francesco Molinari, will try to end that trend in his Fort Worth debut this week. A maiden trip around a PGA Tour layout shouldn’t scare bettors too far away from Francesco: just last summer he won the Quicken Loans National in his first ever trip to TPC Potomac.

– Danny Lee got off to a scorching start last week at Bethpage (opening with 64) but couldn’t maintain that incredible pace, ultimately finishing tied for 36th. Colonial is a great spot for Lee to pick back up on his good form, though, having finished in the top-25 each of the previous four years here. Since 2015, Lee has collected 66 birdies/eagles on this course. Only Spieth (78) has more during that span.