ATLANTA — Jordan Spieth wants Sunday at the Tour Championship.
But he doesn’t need it.
There’s a difference and it’s not just the $10 million FedEx Cup points bonus on the line when he takes a one-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson into the final round at East Lake.
“I don’t think I need tomorrow. I think I’m free rolling. No matter what it’s a dream come true season,” Spieth said.
To some minds, the player of the year award was still to be determined when this Tour Championship began given Jason Day’s ferocious stretch of play over the past two months. By his own admission, Day needed to win at East Lake to seriously challenge Spieth for player of the year and that’s not likely to happen with Day eight shots off the lead now.
With four wins including the Masters and the U.S. Open, along with finishing fourth by a stroke in the British Open and a runner-up to Day at the PGA Championship, Spieth has been the best player in the game this year. Winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup would be like the final burst of fireworks on a Fourth of July show.
“I don’t need tomorrow to justify it but I’m not going to sit here and say $10 million doesn’t mean anything to me because it does,” Spieth said. “It’s a fantastic bonus that I don’t even know where it came from six or seven years ago but all of a sudden they just want to give us more money. So it’s fine with me.”
When Spieth missed the cut in the first two playoff events, there was a natural overreaction. What’s wrong with Jordan? Can he get it back?
His game had gone dull but so had his motivation. Spieth knew the first playoff events didn’t matter in terms of his chances to win the FedEx Cup. He would arrive at East Lake among the top five in points which meant he could win the FedEx Cup with a victory in Atlanta.
Spieth approached it like a major championship and we know how he’s played in those.
“I consider this the fifth (major) and I have an opportunity to get a winning record at the end,” Spieth said.
Spieth admitted he also thought of the Players Championship as a fifth major this year but because he missed the cut there, he’s not counting it anymore.
On a wet, dreary Saturday, Spieth started three strokes behind Stenson. He pulled even when Stenson bogeyed the 17th hole and took the lead home with him with his birdie at the 18th. Spieth didn’t realize he had the lead until someone told him 20 minutes after his round ended.
“I hope I have something like that (putt on 18) tomorrow for the Cup,” Spieth said. “That’s what we play for is that exhilarating feeling, that adrenaline rush. That’s why we are here, that’s what we love to do and hopefully I have that opportunity tomorrow.”