Spieth ends with a big bang

Jordan Spieth, with a crowd following him to the 18th green, nails a sensational season with his Tour Championship win.
Jordan Spieth, with a crowd following him to the 18th green, nails a sensational season with his Tour Championship win.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

He bags FedExCup, takes $14m bonus, and reclaims No. 1 ranking to cap superb season

ATLANTA • The value of money was driven home to Jordan Spieth at a young age by his parents.

They sent him off by himself to play in junior golf tournaments to foster his independence but also as a cost-saving measure.

If he returned without his phone charger, as happened multiple times, or lost another item he could not do without, he had to dip into his savings to buy a replacement.

The child raised to value every dollar suddenly is awash in cash.

On Sunday, Spieth won the Tour Championship and FedExCup title to collect a US$10 million (S$14 million) bonus and US$1.485 million cheque that gave him season earnings, before the bonus, of more than US$12 million.

To frame his good fortune, Spieth, 22, earned US$1 million this season for every year he has been alive.

"I have an opportunity now with a year like this and a bonus like that to celebrate and to share it with the people that have made it possible.

"And I'm able to help out those who made this possible because it was not a single effort," he said.

He capped one of the greatest seasons in PGA Tour history with a closing one-under 69 at East Lake Golf Club for a 72-hole total of 271.

He finished four strokes ahead of Danny Lee (65), Justin Rose (66) and Henrik Stenson (72).

With the win, Spieth reclaimed the world No. 1 ranking from Jason Day, who finished tied for 10th, and erased from the public's memory - if not his own - his two missed cuts at the start of the four-tournament play-off series.

When the American hugged his caddie Michael Greller on the 18th green, the latter informed him he had reclaimed the No. 1 ranking and told him to soak in the adulation.

"That's why you keep your self-belief in the first three play-off events," he said he told Spieth. "That's why you block that out and believe in yourself because you're trying to peak for this moment."

Spieth became the first player to win the Masters and the Tour Championship in the same season, and Stenson had the best vantage point for both.

He was grouped with Spieth for the first two rounds of the Masters and the last two rounds at the Tour Championship.

At Augusta, Stenson said: "He's definitely an old head on young shoulders, isn't he?"

Stenson also marvelled at Spieth's putting, labelling it as "the one thing that stands out". Five months later, he has seen nothing from Spieth to change his mind.

On the last hole of the third round, Stenson glanced at the giant scoreboard off the 18th green as Spieth stood over a 20-foot birdie putt in time to read that Spieth had made 24 per cent of his attempts from roughly that distance.

"I thought, 'Well, it feels like it's a bigger chance than 24 per cent,'" Stenson said, "and he just rolled it right in the middle."

On Sunday, Stenson watched as Spieth drained a birdie putt from a similar distance on the par-three eighth. The attempt, from 21 feet, was the nail that punctured Stenson's title hopes.

It came after Spieth bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 (only his third and fourth bogeys of the week) to drop into a tie at seven under with Stenson, who bogeyed the eighth for a pivotal two-stroke swing.

On Nos. 9 and 11, Stenson stuck his shots inside four feet of the pin and was hopeful of carving into Spieth's lead, only to watch the American step up first and drain his birdie attempts of 18 feet on the ninth and 47 feet on the 11th.

Spieth said: "Eight was a great birdie because we played it the right way. The one on nine was a steal. I hit a poor second shot and that birdie put a dagger in it."

Spieth, who dropped out of college as a sophomore to turn pro, began the season as the youngest PGA Tour member and finished as the game's best.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2015, with the headline 'Spieth ends with a big bang'. Print Edition | Subscribe