Jordan Spieth’s Lousy Year Just Got Lousier (Plus, Who’s Better: Koepka, JT, or Spieth?)

In the world of professional golf, there is no shortness of thrill, excitement and drama – it’s entertainment at its best. And this week will be no different, as the PGA Tour sets up shop in Memphis, Tennessee, for the 59th playing of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Don’t look now, but Jordan Spieth has officially fallen outside the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).

The three-time major winner hasn’t teed it up in a stroke play event since exiting the playoffs early at the BMW Championship. But after Jason Day posted a T5 at last week’s CJ Cup (more on the winner below), an idle Spieth was knocked back to No. 11 in the OWGR.

It’s his lowest ranking since November 2014 – before the three majors, before the hype, before he was really, well, Jordan Spieth.

The Golden Child

“The golden child” Spieth, then just 20-years-old, first moved into the top 10 following a runner-up finish at the 2014 Masters. While his stay was relatively short inside that elite sector of the world rankings, he continued a position inside the top 15 for the remainder of the PGA Tour season.

Later that year, on December 7, 2014 – following back-to-back wins at the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge, Spieth returned to the top 10 (9th). Incredibly, he remained there until this past Monday – an impressive run of 202 consecutive weeks inside the world top 10, the longest streak among all active players. (DJ now owns the longest at 186 weeks.)

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas celebrate after winning fourball matches at 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris France on Sep 29, 2018. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Peak Jordan?

So is Jordan Spieth washed up at 25? Don’t be stupid. Of course not. He’s an 11-time PGA Tour winner with three additional worldwide wins (two Australian Opens and Hero World Challenge). He also happens to own three majors and will enter the season as one of only three players (Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson), and the only 20-something, in the entire world with a chance for the career grand slam. Oh, and his “crap season” included two top-10 finishes in the majors, highlighted by an epic Sunday charge at Augusta, and the 54-hole lead at the British Open.

Now will the 2015 season become known as peak Jordan? Could be. It’ll sure be hard for him (or anyone) to top it. Did he set expectations way too high? Of course he did. I mean – shoot, to win five times in 2015 at just 21-22 years old, including two majors, the “potential” talk was off the charts. But he did win two PGA Tour titles in 2016, and added a third victory later that year at the Australian Open. He was even better in 2017, winning three more times, including a viral hole-out OT win at the Travelers, followed by a back-nine comeback for the ages at Birkdale to capture his third major at the British Open.

Even accounting for his winless 2018 season, in the aggregate, he’s won six times over the last three seasons, including a major. What Tour player wouldn’t take two wins per season? Not many.

Who Ya Got: Spieth, Thomas or Koepka?

Spieth’s fall from the clear greatest of his generation to one of the 2-3 best of his generation, does pose an interesting debate: Who’s going to have the better career: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, or Brooks Koepka?

Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth
Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth celebrate their victories after their fourball matches on day one of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris on Sep 28, 2018. Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

During his iconic aforementioned 2015 season – when Spieth won five times including the Masters, U.S. Open, and TOUR Championship, JT was an afterthought, as he’d qualified for only one major (PGA) and failed to even make it to East Lake. Koepka had arrived from a successful stint in Europe, so he’d accumulated world ranking points to jump inside the top 20, but he was a relative unknown, and a one-time Tour winner.

At the time, no one would have dared to ask: ‘Who’ll have the better career: Spieth, or Koepka, or Thomas?’.

But fast forward to the start of the 2018-19 season: Thomas and Koepka are the two most recent PGA Tour Player of the Year winners – both are also the two most recent winners of the PGA Championship, and both are two of only four players to have occupied the world No. 1 position in the past two years.

Additionally, JT has claimed the money title for two-straight years, while winning eight times – the PGA Tour’s most prolific winner. Koepka, meanwhile, owns three major titles in those two years, and captured his fourth PGA Tour trophy (in his 19 most recent starts) this past weekend… and so on.

The question as to which of the three young American stars will have a better career now no longer sounds silly.

However, looking at the overall trajectory, Spieth still projects out as the best of the best. He has two more PGA Tour titles (11 to 9), including two more majors (3 to 1), than Thomas. In relation to Koepka, he’s three years younger, and owns more than twice the wins (11-5), and as many majors (3).

Bottomline, it’s a great time to be a golf fan.

By the Numbers

Jordan Spieth (25): 11 Wins, 3 Majors (World No.11)
Justin Thomas (25): 9 Wins, 1 Major (World No.4)
Brooks Koepka (28): 5 Wins, 3 Majors (World No.1)


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