Jordan Spieth could not have scripted a more storybook opening chapter to his PGA Tour career, with a 2013 rookie season that began with no playing status and ended just three strokes back of FedExCup winner Henrik Stenson at the Tour Championship.
In between, the odds-on favorite to earn Rookie of the Year honors won his first tour event (John Deere Classic), tied for the most top-10 finishes in the league (nine), and was a captain’s pick for the 2013 U.S. Presidents Cup team.
The youngest player ever to make it to the season-ending tilt at East Lake, and the only first-year player to do so this season, the 20-year-old Texas Longhorn copped a seventh-place finish in the FedExCup standings, ahead of Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, reigning U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, and last year’s FEC winner Brandt Snedeker, just to name a few.
Spieth also finished 10th on the money list, making an eye-popping $3,879,820 for his efforts.
"It’s been a dream come true," Spieth told reporters after finishing tied for second with Steve Stricker at East Lake.
The numbers make the case for Spieth, whose challengers for newbie consideration are Derek Ernst, Russell Henley, and David Lingmerth. Henley, with a victory at the Sony Open in his first start on tour, represents the only real threat to Spieth’s domination. Henley posted three top-10 finishes, finished 44th in FedExCup points, and 33rd on the money list, winning more than $2 million.
Ernst also posted a win in his first trip around the major leagues, picking up a W in the Wells Fargo Championship. He was 93rd in the FedExCup and 66th on the money list.
Lingmerth was winless in 2013, but he had two second-place finishes in 23 events after losing in a playoff at the Humana Challenge and tying for runner-up at The Players Championship. With three top-10 closes, Lingmerth was 75th in the FEC and 46th on the money list.
Had there been any doubt that he would not win the votes of his colleagues in RoY voting, Spieth dispelled it with a 6-under 64 in Sunday’s finale to the Tour Championship.
"The beginning of the year, my goal ‑‑ yeah, I've said it a million times -- it was just to get on Tour next season. It was just to get my 2014 PGA Tour card," Spieth said. "Those couple weeks happen at Puerto Rico and Tampa [T2 and T7, respectively] that really changed my golf life. To be able to play the PGA Tour this year, and then obviously the John Deere opened up.
"I just had to readjust goals a couple different times this year and definitely exceeded any expectations I could have imagined starting the year," Spieth concluded.
All that’s left for Spieth is to collect the RoY award, kick some International butt in the Presidents Cup next week, and hope there’s no such thing as a sophomore jinx.