After the year he’s had, Jordan Spieth is going to need not only a bigger trophy case, but a larger room to fit all the hardware he’s won this past season. Spieth was voted by his peers as the PGA Tour Player of the Year on Friday, which was no surprise. The only player who joined the conversation for a brief period was Jason Day, but Spieth closed the door on that after he took care of business with a four-shot victory at the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup.
Spieth’s year was inspiring, to say the least. I’m not going to compare him to Tiger Woods because that’s simply not fair, but Spieth’s accomplishments were perhaps the closest thing we’ve seen to Woods in his prime.
The 22-year-old Texan won five PGA Tour events: the Valspar Championship, Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, John Deere Classic and the TOUR Championship. He won consecutive majors with the Masters and the U.S. Open and gave the Grand Slam a serious run. In fact, only four shots separated Spieth from achieving that historic feat — he fell one shot short of joining the three-man playoff at the Open Championship and then finished second to a red-hot Jason Day at the PGA Championship.
In 25 starts, Spieth led the Tour with 15 top-10s, including four runner-up finishes, with 21 made cuts.
Spieth, who regained the no. 1 world ranking after the Tour Championship, collected a PGA Tour-record $12,030,465 (not counting the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup) to secure the Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money winner and also finished first in Adjusted Scoring Average (68.938) to earn the Byron Nelson Award (PGA Tour) and Vardon Trophy (PGA of America).
It was a clean sweep for the kid, who is just as impressive off the golf course — if not more — as he is on it.
Spieth became the youngest to be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year since Tiger Woods won the award at age 21 in 1997.
“It’s an honor because to win Player of the Year — it was our MVP of our league,” said Spieth in a teleconference on Friday. “And it’s voted on by the players. For them to recognize the hard work that we’ve put in and what we’ve been able to do with it is truly special and I thank all the players I look up to. I’ve got great role models ahead of me that have helped me kind of settle in and be able to take care of things off the course to be able to just play golf.”
In a year where Spieth pulled off what appeared to be the impossible and played thrilling golf, it was hard for him to name a single shot that stood out most, but two did come to mind.
“That one (the flop shot on 18 on Sunday at the Masters) was certainly pivotal,” said Spieth. “It’s hard to single out one shot. I couldn’t do one. But that flop shot, the second shot into 18 at Chambers Bay on the 72nd hole, after making double bogey, which before that I kind of had it locked up, three shots with two to play. That second shot was good and lucky, which is a nice combo. After that, those two shots really stick out for me.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Berger beat out Tony Finau, Nick Taylor and Justin Thomas for Rookie of the Year honors.
In just his fifth PGA Tour start as a rookie, Berger’s name found its way to the top of the leaderboard after an opening 65 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. While a pair of 74s in the second and third round derailed a strong finish, he followed with top-10s in three of his next six starts, including his playoff loss at The Honda Classic.
A few miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla., Berger fired a final-round 6-under 64 to take the clubhouse lead in front of a hometown crowd. He later fell to Padraig Harrington in a playoff, one of two runner-up finishes in 2014-15.
After a streak of seven missed cuts, Berger rebounded with a strong showing in his first FedExCup Playoffs. One of nine rookies to advance to the Playoffs, Berger finished T12 at the Deutsche Bank Championship and second at the BMW Championship to enter the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at No. 9 in the FedExCup standings. Berger became the seventh PGA Tour rookie in history to make it to the Playoffs finale. All seven rookies who advanced to Atlanta went on to be named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
The 2014 Web.com Tour graduate finished T12 at the TOUR Championship to end the season ranked 11th in the FedExCup. Only Jordan Spieth in 2013 (seventh) finished a rookie season on Tour higher in the FedExCup standings.
In 31 starts, Berger recorded six top-10 finishes, including two runner-up finishes, with 17 made cuts.
“I’m just honored to receive such a prestigious award, especially being recognized by the peers on the PGA Tour that we compete day in and day out with,” said Berger. “Obviously congratulations to the other nominees, Justin, Tony and Nick, who I’m great friends with and who have played unbelievable golf this year. I’m just proud of the way this year’s rookie class has played and excited to be starting the new season here soon.”