Gil LeBreton

No Tiger, no problem, thanks to Jordan Spieth

Fans may compare Jordan Spieth to Tiger Woods, but the young Texan keeps his eye on the target.
Fans may compare Jordan Spieth to Tiger Woods, but the young Texan keeps his eye on the target. AP

No Tiger, no problem.

Fortunately for the great game of golf, there has been life after Tiger Woods.

A polite and promising life, as it turns out. Jesuit educated.

And the best part about Jordan Spieth in the inevitable comparison to the then-young Woods is that he’s here. He doesn’t need the proper bank or correct credit card to show his face this week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Spieth is home. Colonial this week, Byron Nelson the next.

“It’s an honor to have been born in this great state, to be from this great state,” Spieth said Tuesday before his pro-am round. “I’ve spent my whole life here. And to be back playing here … it’s really cool.”

Funny, but I don’t recall Tiger saying anything like that back in 1997, as his courtesy Cadillac burned rubber out of the Colonial parking lot, after blowing the tournament with a final-round 72.

He hasn’t been back since. There were rumored lame excuses about Woods’ sponsors not wanting him to play in events labeled with competing brands. There was also the smug hypothesis that Colonial’s tight fairways didn’t suit Tiger’s style.

Whatever. Tiger Woods is old news this week. Let the bells at University Christian Church finally ring.

It was inescapable in Augusta that Spieth’s regular-setting performance would be compared to Woods’ 1997 Masters triumph. Both shot 18-under 270 to win at age 21.

Spieth’s 36-hole score of 14 under, however, broke a 39-year-old record held by Raymond Floyd. His 54-hole total, 16 under, broke a record shared by Floyd and Woods.

Only a bogey on the 72nd hole kept Spieth from breaking Woods’ tournament scoring record. As it was, when he birdied No. 15 on the final day, Spieth became the first at the Masters to ever go 19-under par.

Plus, he had a record 28 birdies over the four days.

Spieth’s answer Tuesday was the same as the day he won the green jacket, when asked about the comparisons to young Tiger.

“I didn’t even know that my putt on the 72nd hole of the Masters was to break his record,” he said. “I try to stay away from that.

“We have goals as a team that we set. We set lofty ones to try and accomplish them and try not to compare to anybody else.”

When asked to contrast the two, Hall of Famer and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw saw definite similarities.

“I’d say Tiger’s game was more spectacular,” Crenshaw said. “Nobody has played the type of golf that Tiger has.

“But Jordan is really so balanced in all parts of his game. There is no weakness in any department. He’s a good driver, a good chipper. And he’s a lethal putter. He’s a far more [well-rounded] player than when I was that age.”

There likely will never be another Tiger Woods. Disregard the way his throne unraveled. His achievements, while he was winning majors, carried the added luster of a Jackie Robinson or a Jesse Owens.

Spieth hasn’t had to carry that cross. His biggest pressure this weekend may come from the cheering contingent of Dallas Jesuit alums that Colonial has opened its gates to.

This week’s gallery, he guessed, is “going to be crazy.”

“Next week will be nuts being in Dallas.”

He still has a job to do, though, Spieth said, even playing in his back yard.

“I’m here to do my job,” he said. “I’m here to win this tournament this week.”

After years of keeping the porch light on for Tiger Woods, Colonial has a new young prodigy to roll out the plaid carpet for.

Welcome home, kid.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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