It’s one of the most overlooked venues in the sport – Tiger Woods stands idly by as his opponents are crowned the winners.
Alongside Rory McIlroy, Woods had just suffered a emphatic defeat in the seventh edition of The Match to golf’s dynamic duo and longtime friends – Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Crusader, the 15-time major winner watched as the victorious pair received commemorative bracelets. All night of December 10, the vulgar talk had rained like bullets under the lights of the Pelican Club in Florida, but Spieth still had one in the bedroom.
“The joy of getting this doesn’t match the joy of standing here with Tiger so upset he has to stay here for this,” a laughing Spieth quipped.
Woods’ composed expression cracked, a broad smile breaking across the 46-year-old’s face followed by a nod.
Woods alone had six more majors and 31 more PGA titles than the game’s big three alongside him combined, a staggering disparity that Spieth was well aware of. Yet it was precisely this gap that made the final shot all the more satisfying, explained the Dallas-born golfer.
“He’s in a position where he doesn’t even have to justify his fightback,” Spieth told CNN.
“He’s laughing, he’s pissed off. He’s pretty much like, ‘Okay, go home kid.’ That’s what I got out of that smile.
“And to me, that was sarcasm. He’s a guy you never think you’d see stay and sit around while somebody else wins. Because first of all, he hasn’t lost very often, and two, the few times he did, I’m sure he was very far from where the awards ceremony was taking place.
As usual, back and forth between the players on the mic and the commentary team added to the friendly competitive atmosphere of the event, which raised funds for Florida relief following from Hurricane Ian in October.
At times, the relentless verbal war waged between Thomas and NBA legend Charles Barkley took center stage over golf itself, a role reversal that Spieth was initially eager to take on.
“I was super nervous to start because it was a new role – we had to entertain,” Spieth admitted.
“It was kind of excited anxiety, like super excited to start, not really knowing what to expect.
“The four of us together, we all had a pretty good relationship…bringing out a lot of people and a lot of interest, I think that really helped [us] make yourself confortable.”
And based on the pair’s background, there’s no one Spieth is more comfortable with than Thomas.
The longtime friends became just the third pair in history to remain unbeaten in the first four rounds of the Presidents Cup in September, as a clear 5-0-0 run extended their combined record through the President’s Cups and Ryder Cups at 8-2. -0.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Spieth said.
“It takes some of the pressure off when we play, because on a bad hole, one of us cringes and the other laughs, and all of a sudden you feel a little bit more comfortable. And on the good holes, we hype each other, using funny phrases for him and me.
“Think about dating your best friend in a high-pressure situation. It has such a benefit on your back and being able to feel super comfortable – it’s kind of an addictive feeling.
Victory at The Match put the icing on a solid year for Spieth, continuing his return to his best form.
After bursting onto the scene with three major triumphs in his first four years on the Tour, a relative slump saw the former world No. 1 fall outside the top 50 for the first time since his historic rookie season in 2020.
Still, after ending a 1,351-day trophy drought and finishing second at the Open last year, Spieth went from strength to strength, adding his 13th Tour title in April and dazzling in a dominant victory in the Presidents Cup to climb back to the top of the world. 15.
Spieth believes the emphasis on mechanical work in his swing has led to sloppy putting and chipping, but having found the balance he is optimistic about achieving the consistency needed to break through his benchmark. raised; be in contention for half of the majors for the season.
“I always aim to try to have a chance when I play on Sunday to win at least two major tournaments – that’s where we are preparing to reach our peak,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean I have to be in the lead, it means when I play I sit there and say, ‘If I play my best golf, I’m going to win today. “”