Jordan Spieth emphatic Tournament of Champions triumph is an ominous sign for rivals Rory McIlroy and Jason Day

Sam Torrance
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Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Final Round
Jordan Spieth equalled Tiger Woods's record of seven PGA Tour titles before his 23rd birthday (Source: Getty)

It didn't take long for Jordan Spieth to make a mockery of Rory McIlroy’s prediction that the American world No1 would find it difficult in 2016 to replicate the form that swept him to two Majors last year.

Spieth summoned a superlative performance in his first outing of the year at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, storming to victory by eight shots on Sunday with a final score of 30 under par.

The Texan, who equalled Tiger Woods’s record of seven PGA Tour titles before his 23rd birthday, ranked first for greens in regulation and for strokes gained from putting, and when you do that you’re unbeatable.

I’ve said before that I think McIlroy is the superior player, but what you forget about Spieth is that he is still only 22. He is just a baby, yet such a great golfer already.

What I also like about him is that he went down to Kapalua early, in the first week of the new year, for extra practice. How many other players did that? It is fantastic and testament to his quality.

He was magnificent last week, and in a predominately American field underlined that he is head and shoulders above the rest of the current generation of US players.

US PGA Championship winner Jason Day finished with a promising eight-under-par round of 65, but the Australian and McIlroy will know that Spieth has set the bar very high. It’s certainly ominous.

It was moving, meanwhile, to see young South African Brandon Stone win his first European Tour title at the SA Open in Johannesburg on Sunday.

The 22-year-old came through an eventful final round to clinch victory with four birdies in the last six holes – exemplary stuff.

That tournament is a huge event for a kid from Rustenburg like him, and he was understandably very emotional at the end.

He looks to have the potential to be a big star, and from what I gather is a very nice young man, so well done to him.

Finally, golf suffered a sad loss last week with the death of Christy O’Connor, a friend and Ryder Cup team-mate.

He was a legend on and off the course and lived life to the full from the first moment to the last.

One of my enduring memories of Christy is from the gala dinner at the 1989 Ryder Cup at the Belfry.

Singer Chris de Burgh was the main entertainment, and he pulled the Irishman out of the crowd to perform his hit Lady In Red.

Christy proved to be even better than De Burgh, and the look on the faces of the American players was priceless.

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