Comparing anyone to Tiger Woods is typically a fool's errand and will do nothing but humiliate the individual being compared. Woods' numbers — 14 majors, 79 wins, a career winning percentage of .257 — dwarf anything any other active player (or two or three) can muster. Aside from Jack Nicklaus, there's no other real contender for the title of History's Greatest Golfer.
But a certain rookie, who just turned 20 years old, is doing things that a 20-year-old Tiger once did. Earlier this year, Texan Jordan Spieth became the first teenager to win on Tour since 1931 and the fourth-youngest winner in PGA Tour history. He became the first player since Tiger to start a season with no Tour status whatsoever and still qualify for the Tour Championship. There hasn't been a rise this meteoric since erstwhile grocery stocker Kurt Warner won the MVP and the Super Bowl.
Here's some of what Spieth has accomplished:
• He began the year at No. 810 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He currently stands at No. 28.
• He parlayed early sponsor's exemptions into Special Temporary Member status, then full status, then FedExCup contention.
• His win at the John Deere Classic in July, which gave him full Tour status, improved his World ranking by 61 spots.
• He had one of the shots of the year at the John Deere, holing out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole to earn a spot in a playoff with defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn.
• Spieth was an obvious Captain's Pick for U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples — after starting the season outside the top 800 golfers in the world.
In other words, Spieth has earned has earned his Tiger comparison. So we're happy to oblige.
Here's a look at Spieth's rookie year (with two tournaments yet to play) compared with Woods' explosion onto the scene as a 20-year-old rookie in 1996.
Tournaments entered 21 11*
Tournaments won 1 2
Runner-ups 2 0
Top 5s 4 5
Top 10s 8 5
Top 10 pct. .380 .455
Top 25s 11 8
Low round 62 63
Scoring average 69.79 69.44
*Woods played The Masters, U.S. Open and British Open as an amateur in 1996.
We give a slight edge here to Tiger, but keep in mind: He turned professional in September, after the tournaments on the toughest courses with the toughest fields had already been played. Spieth has amassed his accomplishments in the teeth of the Tour schedule. Also, keep in mind that Spieth shot his 62 at the Deutsche Bank, a pressure-charged FedExCup playoff event, while Tiger's rookie low round of 63 came in Las Vegas, notorious for a relaxed atmosphere and low scores.
No pressure, Jordan, but the title of "Next Tiger" is out there for the taking. All you need to do is win the 2014 Masters by 12 or more shots.