It’s one of the more unseen sights in the sport: Tiger Woods stands idly by as his opponents are crowned winners.
Joining Rory McIlroy, Woods had just suffered a resounding loss in the seventh edition of The Match to golf’s dynamic duo and their old friends Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Arms crossed, the 15-time major winner watched as the victorious pair received commemorative bracelets. All through the night of December 10, trash talk had rained down like bullets under the lights of the Pelican Club in Florida, but Spieth had one left in the chamber.
“The joy of getting this doesn’t match the joy of being here with Tiger so upset that he has to be here for this,” Spieth said with a laugh.
Woods’ composed expression broke, a wide smile spreading across the 46-year-old’s face followed by a nod.
Woods alone had six more majors and 31 more PGA titles than the three majors in the game next to him combined, a mind-boggling disparity Spieth was well aware of. However, it was this very gap that made the final shot that much more satisfying, the Dallas-born golfer explained.
“He’s in a position where he doesn’t even need to justify fighting back,” Spieth told CNN.
“He laughs, he’s pissed off. He’s kind of like, ‘Okay, go home kid.’ That’s what I got out of that smile.
“And for me, it was sarcasm. He’s a guy you never expect to see stick around and have to sit there while someone else wins. Because one, he didn’t lose very often, and two, the few times he did, I’m sure he was a long way from wherever the awards ceremony was.”
As usual, the back and forth between the microphone players and the commentary team helped fuel the friendly competitive atmosphere of the event, which raised funds for relief efforts in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in October.
At times, the relentless war of words waged between Thomas and NBA legend Charles Barkley turned the spotlight on golf itself, a reversal of roles Spieth had initially been 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 get started, not really knowing what to expect.
“The four of us together, we’ve all had a pretty good relationship…attracting a lot of people and a lot of interest, I think that really helped. [us] to feel comfortable.”
And based on the couple’s track record, there’s no one Spieth feels more comfortable with than Thomas.
The old friends became the third couple in history to go undefeated in the first four rounds of the Presidents Cup in September, as a flawless 5-0-0 run extended their combined President’s Cup and Ryder Cup record to 8. -2. -0.
“We just had a lot of fun,” Spieth said.
“It takes some of the pressure off me when we play, because on a bad hole one of us just puts himself down and the other one laughs, and suddenly you feel a little more comfortable. And on the good holes, we promote each other, using phrases that are funny to him and me.
“Think about dating your best friend in a high-pressure situation. That has a huge benefit to the rear end and being able to feel super comfortable, it’s kind of an addictive feeling.”
Victory in The Match capped off a strong year for Spieth, continuing his return to top form.
After bursting onto the scene with three major wins in his first four years on 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.
However, after ending a 1351-day trophy drought and finishing second at The Open last year, Spieth has gone from strength to strength, claiming his 13th Tour title in April and dazzling with a dominating victory at the Presidents. Cup to climb back to the top of the world. fifteen.
Spieth believes a focus on mechanical work on his swing led him to neglect putting and chipping, but after finding his footing, he’s optimistic about achieving the consistency needed to surpass his high benchmark; be in firm contention for half of the season’s majors.
“I always have a goal to try to have a chance when I play on Sunday to win at least two majors, that’s where we are preparing to max out,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean I have to be in the lead, it means when I shoot, I sit down and say, ‘If I play my best golf, I’ll win this today.'”