2015 Player of the Year: Spieth or Day?

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, image: sbnation.com

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, image: sbnation.com

Wasn’t it just fifteen minutes ago where golf pundits were debating where to slot Jordan Spieth’s 2015 campaign among the all-time great years in the sport? Ahead of Jones in 1930? Hogan in 1953? Nicklaus in 1972? Woods in 2000? Now those same authorities are struggling with whether he is even the Player of the Year, or if Aussie, Jason Day, now deserves the honor.

The Case for Jason Day

That is what happens when a golfer gets as white-hot as Jason Day. How insanely on fire is the 27-year old Australian right now? On September 17 during the first round of the BMW Championship, a weather delay forced suspension of play. Day, who paired with Spieth, had just driven 346 yards into the rough on the 9th hole– his 18th of the day. When he marked his ball, Day was 10 under par and had taken 58 strokes in the round. The media grasped on to the idea that Day would have a chance to shoot a rare 59 when he came back out to resume play the next morning, as if holing a 40-yard approach shot from wet rough was nothing out of the ordinary. For the record, he came up ten feet short, lipped out the birdie putt and settled for 61, where the news wires then dutifully reported his “failure” to shoot 59.

Day backed up the 61 with an 8-under 63, and lapped the field to win the tournament by six strokes. It was title number five for Day in 2015, and the only players who have won that many in a season in the past two decades were Vijah Singh and Tiger Woods, who has done it an astonishing ten times.

The Case for Jordan Spieth

While Day has won two of the first three events in the FedExCup Playoffs, Jordan Spieth missed the cut for the first two, and then tied for 13th in the third. In the eight rounds in which they have both competed in the playoff series, Day has shot 34 strokes better than Spieth—not looking too good for the suspected Player of the Year shoe-in.

But what cannot be dismissed in any speculation about the 2015 Player of the Year, is that the two most coveted trophies in American golf are sitting in the Spieth trophy case. This past spring Spieth destroyed the field at the Masters with the same voraciousness that Day currently has in the late summer. He added the U.S. Open Championship two months later, made it to the 72nd hole of the Open Championship before missing out on a playoff, and finishing second in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Spieth has also won two other titles during playoffs in 2015 and pocketed more than $10 million in official earnings during the season. Overall, a great year for the Texas Longhorn alum.

The Bottom Line

The measure of a golf season is the majors. By simple arithmetic Spieth leads Day two to one. Add in style points, and both a Masters green jacket and a U.S. Open win look better than the PGA’s Wanamaker Trophy. If Day wins the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta it will cap off an incredible year that will include half a dozen wins, a major championship and $20 million in earnings. And if Spieth takes home the TOUR Championship and FedEx Cup trophies, it will culminate into one of the best single seasons ever. Regardless of how it turns out, these two golfers lit it up in 2015.

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