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December 26 2013

11:45 AM

No. 5 player to watch: Jordan Spieth

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With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Check out this preview of No. 5 Jordan Spieth and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.


NO. 5 PLAYER TO WATCH: JORDAN SPIETH

2014 OUTLOOK: If the 2013 season is any indication, and let's face it, there's certainly no reason to believe otherwise, Jordan Spieth is going to be a lot of fun to watch next year. He'll certainly be much more under the microscope but Spieth appears to be savvy enough to handle it. He started 2013 with no status on TOUR but played with poise and took advantage of every opportunity to earn Rookie of the Year honors. He showed a penchant for making clutch shots not unlike another teenage phenom, this one of the late 1990s -- chipping in on the 72nd hole of the John Deere Classic, for example, to force a playoff with Zach Johnson and David Hearn that he won on the fifth extra hole. The victory made Spieth the youngest winner on TOUR since 1931. A month later, Spieth nearly won his second at the Wyndham Championship -- eventually losing to Patrick Reed in a playoff. Spieth went on to post two of his nine top-10s in the FedExCup Playoffs and finished seventh in a competition he wasn't even eligible for at the start of the year. U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples was impressed and picked him -- can this year's Ryder Cup be far behind? -- Helen Ross

THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Spieth only played in one PGA TOUR event during the wrap-around season, finishing 17th at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

EXPERT VIEWS
FANTASY OUTLOOK
Haven't felt this giddy about an American on the PGA TOUR since Tiger Woods debuted in 1996. Spieth has already demonstrated poise and patience to stay out in front of his career. Underrated intelligence and savvy will be invaluable when he faces adversity. -- Rob Bolton
ON THE MARK
Young Jordan is mature beyond his years and his poised mind-set and demeanor are evidenced every time he tees it up. Jordan has many endearing qualities but to me his gutsy approach and his skill with the putter are as good as any on the TOUR. He makes as many long putts as anyone and as a result Spieth can dig really far under par. Spieth’s golf swing, albeit a little unorthodox, is powerful and repeating so I guess my big question is how he will deal with his sophomore season on TOUR now that the spotlight is trained squarely on him. -- Mark Immelman
COURSE PREFERENCE
I questioned Jordan’s putting for most of his rookie season until, at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, he led the field in strokes gained-putting. Spieth said he finally felt comfortable with his putting following that tournament -- and he led the TOUR in both birdie average and par breakers last year. Put him on greens without severe undulations and he lights up the scoreboard. Playing in his home state of Texas, Spieth should perform well at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. -- Fred Albers
INSIDE THE NUMBERS 
To say the least, it’s a challenge to find a weakness in Spieth’s game. The Rookie of the Year ranked eighth in total driving, 17th in ball-striking and 60th in strokes gained-putting. The kicker? He ranked first in rough proximity at 37 feet, 11 inches, more than 5 feet better than the TOUR average. -- Bill Cooney

VIDEO VAULT

Jordan Spieth’s 2013 breakout season

Jordan Spieth began his rookie season on the PGA TOUR ranked 810th in the world with no playing privileges. Even he could not have foreseen the end results of his breakout season.
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