This time four years ago, a 19-year-old Jordan Spieth had yet to lock up full-time status on the PGA Tour. He'd been bouncing back and forth between the Web.com, PGA Tour Latin America and regular PGA Tour. Four years later, he's a certified lock for the World Golf Hall of Fame even if he never lifts another club.
With 10 wins, Spieth joins an exclusive club of active golfers who have double-digit trophies. The other nine active golfers (depending on how you feel about Tiger Woods) are Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk. You can also throw Steve Stricker in there if you want.
Spieth is by far the youngest in this club and is actually the only golfer since World War II other than Woods to reach the 10-win mark before turning 24 (Spieth is 23 until late July).
It should be noted that despite his age, he's not the only active golfer to get to 10 this quickly. Woods, McIlroy and Mickelson all did it in fewer tournaments played. So while Spieth may be tracking age-wise with Woods, he's a long way off when it comes to winning percentage.
First, let's take a look at how many tournaments it took for a few of the active golfers in this club to reach double digit wins on the PGA Tour. We're looking at PGA Tour events as a pro and as an amateur because Phil Mickelson won an event before turning pro.
- Tiger Woods: 73
- Rory McIlroy: 92
- Phil Mickelson: 112
- Jordan Spieth: 120
- Jason Day: 181
- Dustin Johnson: 194
This is a gaudy list, especially when you compare Spieth to contemporaries like Johnson and Day. The McIlroy comp is mildly unfair to Spieth in this instance because McIlroy only played one PGA Tour event as an amateur (Spieth played eight) and McIlroy already had a European Tour win under his belt when he started playing the PGA Tour.
Spieth's win at the Travelers Championship came in his fifth full year on the PGA Tour and 112th event as a professional. As is the case with most golf comparisons, we have to look at how Spieth stacks up in his first 112 events as a pro to Woods. The difference is staggering.
"I think it's awesome," Spieth said of winning No. 10 on Sunday. "I'm hesitant and will speak out adamantly about not comparing myself to anybody else. I think that's unfair. I don't think anybody will do what Tiger did for the game. But it's really cool to be out here at my age, to experience what we're able to experience, play golf for a living. That's a dream come true for me."
What Spieth can do, I think, is match Phil Mickelson's career. Lefty has 42 wins and five majors over his 25-year run on the PGA Tour. Neither is out of the question for Spieth (or McIlroy, for that matter). Let's look at how those two are tracking with Mickelson (chart via Data Golf).
Right on pace. The difference between them is that Spieth is going to play the PGA Tour much more than McIlroy. Both because he plays more (21 or more events in each of his first four seasons) and because McIlroy is still a member of the European Tour for Ryder Cup purposes.
Spieth is generationally great, though. I made a bet with some folks at the Players Championship this year that Spieth would reach 40 wins in his career. They thought I'd lost my mind. I realize that's a ton, but when you think about it being two a year for the next 20 years, it suddenly doesn't seem like that many for somebody like Spieth.
What Spieth is doing is not what Tiger did. Tiger was changing golf and making it better. Spieth is just the keeper of the kingdom. Tiger built the modern kingdom.
Spieth has received the baton from Tiger and Mickelson as the best American of the next generation, and he's running with it. (Dustin Johnson fits in here somewhere, for sure, but Spieth will end his career with more wins.) Spieth's first 10 victories were thrilling contests all over the country. His next 10 and the 10 after that will be as well.
"It's cool to look at the different places around the world we've won and the differences in the golf courses and similarities as well," Spieth said on Sunday. "I think we've won on very different golf courses. It says that, other than that we add a little bit of belief that no matter where we go, we don't just say this course isn't for us."
Spieth, at the preposterous age of 23, is already part of a historic club of 114 golfers that have won 10 or more PGA Tour events. That group will thin out as Spieth moves up the ladder. There are only 10 golfers who have ever won 40 or more events. To do it in the era he's playing in would be insane, but with 10 down in his first 112 as a pro and having already joined Woods as the youngest to 10 since the 1940s, I certainly wouldn't bet against Jordan Spieth.