Jordan Spieth says it’s "unfair" to compare him at this stage in his burgeoning superstar career with Tiger Woods.
"The parallels that are drawn between me and Tiger are unfair," Spieth said. "It’s something that people are looking for, but is not there with anybody right now because it’s something, I don’t think, that can be compared until at least midway through their career. This is an early timetable. When people ask me about these kind of parallels I try and shake it off because it’s not the same."
Lovely words, and the winner of two straight Grand Slam events may truly believe them. But the golf world desperately wants a successor to the 39-year-old Woods, who is clearly on the back nine of his career, and with Rory McIlroy on the shelf for the indefinite future and Spieth on the verge of making even more history than he has already, you’re the "It" man of the hour, young Heir Jordan.
For sure, with Spieth able to become the first golfer since Woods to win three majors in a row as he goes for the third leg of what would be an unprecedented modern calendar Grand Slam, the comparisons to the old man are everywhere and pretty much impossible to ignore.
Jordan Spieth is now one victory shy of tying Tiger Woods for most wins on TOUR before age 22. pic.twitter.com/uRjMrn9Iz1— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 12, 2015
Jordan Spieth is 1st player to win 4 times in season before The Open since Tiger Woods in 2000. (via @ESPNStatsInfo) pic.twitter.com/bgfUxnuh7V— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 12, 2015
Jordan Spieth: 2nd player since 1940 to win at least 5 PGA TOUR events before turning 22 (Tiger Woods: 6 wins).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 12, 2015
Yeah, but, really, Spieth told reporters on the eve of Thursday’s start to the British Open at St. Andrews, it’s just way too soon, guys.
"I’m extremely happy with where I’ve been and how we’ve been able to compete and win early and win a couple majors at my age," said Spieth. "But at the same time I certainly have an appreciation for how Tiger could continue and continue and continue to keep winning majors at just an unbelievable percentage of the amount that he played in because its not easy. It’s very challenging, you have to be at the top of your game and the top of your mental game."
Far more appropriate, Spieth contended, to liken the 39-year-old Woods, with his 79 PGA Tour wins and 14 major titles, to the real legends of the game.
"All the skills have to be there and for him to consistently do it is a completely different level that nobody that, I think. is playing right now has seen. Jack [Nicklaus] coming before, and Arnie [Palmer] and [Ben] Hogan," Spieth said, reeling off the names of three of golf’s all-time greats, "that’s the category that you should be paralleling. I don’t think anybody right now, it’s fair to do that."
Fair or not, it is -- as the guy Spieth avidly wishes you would not measure him with is wont to say -- what it is. Especially with the possibility that the Texas phenom could become the only player other than Gene Sarazen to win multiple majors before he turns 22 and only the second (after Hogan) to win the first three in the same season, at the iconic home of golf.
"Sure, I’m aware," he said about the feat he could achieve this week on the Old Course. "I like to study the history of golf, and it’s extremely special what this year has brought ... To have a chance to do what only one other person in the history of golf has done doesn’t come around very often. I’m sure embracing that opportunity, but by the time I start, that won’t be in my head. It’ll be about how can I bring this Open Championship down to just another event."
If anyone in the modern era can do that, it would be Jordan Spieth.