The Curious Career of Jordan Spieth

The Curious Career of Jordan Spieth

The year is 2015. A 22 year old, wide eyed kid from Dallas enters the Masters on the heels of one of the most successful second year campaigns in the history of the PGA Tour. Less than three years removed from spending his nights in a college dorm room in Austin, Spieth has established himself as the hottest player in the planet. In his three starts prior to the Masters, Spieth won the Valspar Championship, finished runner-up at the Valero Texas Open, and lost in a playoff at the Shell Houston Open. The Masters will be his first start as the newly minted fourth ranked player in the world.

A first round 64 gives him a three shot lead, which sets the record for the youngest player to lead the Masters after round one. He misses out on tying Nick Price and Greg Norman’s course record by a single stroke. A second round 66 breaks the 36-hole scoring record. A steady, third round 69 breaks the 54 hole scoring record. Spieth’s inevitable coming out party was already a foregone conclusion before a single shot was hit on Sunday. His only blemish came in the form of an 18th hole bogey that prevented him from tying Tiger Woods’ 1997 Masters scoring record. Spieth set the record for the most birdies in the Masters with 28, and he became the second youngest player to ever win the Masters. His victory was the first wire to wire Masters win since Raymond Floyd in 1976.

Less than two months later, Jordan Spieth captured the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. While more anti-climactic in its nature due to Dustin Johnson’s infamous three-putt from 12 feet on the 18th hole, Spieth was still now in rarified air. With the victory at Chambers, he became only the sixth player ever to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year, and the first since Tiger Woods in 2002. The only other four golfers to accomplish that feat are Craig Wood, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. Spieth was now the fourth youngest player to win multiple major championships, and the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.

By the end of 2015, Spieth had become the number one player in the world after a fourth at the Open Championship and a runner-up at the PGA Championship. There have been few seasons in golf history where a player possessed a legitimate chance to win all four major championships. Spieth captured two, and he was right there at St. Andrews and Whistling Straits as well. He swept all of the major awards: PGA Player of the Year, Vardon Trophy, Byron Nelson Award, and the Arnold Palmer Award. He capped off his season with a victory at East Lake, claiming the FedEx Cup and an extra $10 million dollars. Barely able to legally buy a drink, Spieth had reached the top of the sport’s mountaintop.

I mention all of this to highlight the fleeting nature of our sport. We’d never see the phenom reach similar heights. In 2016, Spieth infamously suffered one of the biggest collapses in Masters history. He entered the back-nine on Sunday with a five stroke lead, before carding a quadruple bogey on 12 after rinsing two balls into Rae’s Creek. Spieth briefly returned to glory after a magical four days at Royal Birkdale, his third and final major championship to date.

Between 2015 and 2017, Spieth hovered around a +2.5 strokes per round golfer. He was unequivocally the best player in the world during this time period. In 73 starts over that three year stretch, Spieth recorded 54 top-20 finishes, 30 top-five finishes, 12 wins, and three majors. It remains one of the greatest three year stretches in golf history. In the six years since, Spieth has never crossed the +2 strokes gained threshold again. He gained 1.5 strokes per round in 2021, which was the only year that he came within a stroke per round of the player that he was from 2015-2017. In 134 starts between 2018 and 2023, Spieth has only recorded two world-wide wide wins, which came at the Valero Texas Open and RBC Heritage, two middle of the road PGA Tour events. Now at 30 years old, a father of two, and coming off the heels of a Ryder Cup loss where he was virtually unplayable, the domination we witnessed in 2015 at Augusta feels a part of a bygone era.

Many look back on Spieth’s dominance as a product of a hot putter, or “Magic Beans,” a popular Twitter term utilized to describe Spieth’s inexplicable nature to get the ball in the hole without always passing the eye test. “Magic Beans” may be a useful description to recount Spieth’s last six years, but it’s not a remotely accurate way to look back on his peak. Between 2015 and 2017, Spieth was arguably the most well-rounded golfer in the world.

Spieth, 2015-2017:

  • SG: OTT: +0.52
  • SG: APP: +0.73
  • SG: ARG: +0.43
  • SG: P: +0.63

Spieth, 2018-2023:

  • SG: OTT: +0.12
  • SG: APP: +0.38
  • SG: ARG: +0.35
  • SG: P: +0.21


As we can see, Spieth’s driver has declined by 0.4 of a stroke, his irons have declined by 0.35 of a stroke, his short game essentially remained the same, and his putter has declined by 0.42 of a stroke. The story of Spieth’s decline is a fairly equal reduction of all skills, outside of his around the green play. There’s really not just one aspect of his game that broke. It’s rather that he simply got nearly half a stroke worse at the three most important aspects of golf.

Spieth is still a solid iron player, an above average driver of the ball, with a borderline elite short game and a putter that comes and goes. Yet over the last calendar year, he’s not a top-15 player in the world in any of the four major stat categories, including short game. The problem with Spieth is that he’s stuck in the really good zone, yet seemingly miles away from elite. The three time major winner is undeniably still one of the 25 to 30 best golfers in the world, but he’s as far as he’s ever been from the best.

Spieth has played nearly identical golf across 2022 and 2023. He teed it up 23 times in each of the last two years, recorded 10 and 11 top-20s, three and five top-fives, with one win in 2022, and one playoff loss in 2023, both at the same tournament. His putting incrementally improved in 2023, but his ball-striking got slightly worse.

When a player gets marginally worse at nearly ever aspect of his game, it’s a lot more challenging to feel confident about their return to glory. For example, Scottie Scheffler got half of a stroke worse per round on the greens last year. It’s incredibly easy to identify the problem (and solution) in that case. Spend more time on the putting green, change grips, hire a new putting coach. In Spieth’s case however, we saw a gradual decline in play in all aspects, outside of his spectacular short game, which has remained up to snuff. It’s more challenging for me to pinpoint what should be the most important area of focus. When Spieth was at his best, he was an above average driver of the ball, with an elite short game, and a top-five iron player in the world. He may be remembered as Mr. Magic Beans, and he certainly putted great during that era, but his best season on the greens actually came in 2019, the beginning of his major decline.

After a terrible three year stretch off the tee between 2019 and 2021, where he lost an average of 0.15 strokes per round off the tee, Spieth has returned to driving the ball in the +0.4 zone, which does approach his +0.52 level between 2015 and 2017. It’s really the iron play that is Spieth’s smoking gun. In 2017, Spieth gained 1.15 strokes per round on approach. He was undeniably the best iron player in the world, and this was his best season in any single metric of his career. He’s never come within a half of a stroke of that since, in any statistical category!

I think we’re all rooting for a Spieth comeback, but that 22-year-old kid went wire to wire at Augusta isn’t walking through that door any time soon. Since he finished first and second at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in 2015, Spieth has recorded just one top-five in 17 appearances at the two brutish U.S. Major Championship not held in the comfy confines of Magnolia Lane. PGA Championship and U.S. Open venues have undeniably moved away from Spieth in recent years, and his lack of elite driving has been severely exposed at 7,500 yard courses with paper-thin driving corridors. A far more likely outcome for Spieth is catching lightning in a bottle across four magical days at Augusta or an Open. We’ve seen Tiger triumph at Augusta based on course knowledge with a severely diminished skill profile, and the Open Championship remains the major that incorporates the most volatility and randomness. Spieth’s 2021 runner-up finish at St. George’s remains his closest call at a major in the last six years.

It will be fascinating to watch Spieth’s career trajectory as he enters his thirties. His body is different from what it was when he was 22. His swing is different, and with two young children, I’d imagine his priorities are different as well. The 2023 iteration of Spieth is still completely intoxicating to watch. There are still moments of greatness, with the occasional beautiful disaster mixed in as well. Yet for those of us old enough to remember, it’s hard not watch this version of Spieth with a forlorn nostalgia.

V For Valspar | Valspar Championship RunGood RunDown

V For Valspar | Valspar Championship RunGood RunDown

Valspar Championship | Stats, Trends & Things You Don’t Need To Know

Copperhead Course (Innisbrook)
Par 71 – 7,340 Yards
Fairways Hit: 58.64% (20th hardest out of 51)
Greens Hit: 57.25% (6th hardest out of 51)
Birdie or Better: 17.79% (11th hardest out of 51)
Scoring Average: 70.96 (20th hardest out of 51)

Big Boy Par 3s

Maybe the most unique feature of the Copperhead Course layout are the (5) Long Par 3s. Every single one is over 195 yards on the scorecard and they played a combined 0.51 strokes over par, per round, last year. With those holes making up 27.7% of the routing, I figured we should look at the best golfers on Long Par 3s — defined by 190 yards or longer.

  1. Harold Varner III +0.119 per hole
  2. Alex Noren +0.108
  3. Jason Kokrak +0.102
  4. Zach Johnson +0.099
  5. Dustin Johnson +0.097

Note the chart below — Varner gets better as the Par 3s get longer.

Scramble Heat Check

For those of you living under a rock, Andy Lack and I go LIVE ON YOUTUBE every Tuesday and Friday for a show called The Scramble. We’ve been attempting to bankrupt PrizePicks by giving out props and we are WHITE HOT. We are on a 23-2 run of props and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Here’s what we gave out on Tuesday:

  • Alex Noren R1 Under 72 Strokes
  • Bubba Watson R1 Under 72.5 Strokes
  • Keegan Bradley R1 Over 11 GIR
  • Justin Thomas R1 Under 12 GIR

Those lines have probably already moved with how many people are tailing so here’s one more thing that has my interest.

Hole 11 props are available, which is a Par 5 that played to a 4.722 scoring average last year. There are three golfers available who have played hole 11 before:

  • Justin Thomas: 6/10 overs
  • Dustin Johnson 6/8 overs
  • Viktor Hovland 3/4 overs

We can wait to see the wind direction and pin location but the early lean is overs on hole 11.
Play: Code “RICK”

Most Improved Approach

Two golfers in the field have made significant gains in approach play recently.

Since the start of 2022, Adam Hadwin is gaining 0.74 strokes on approach, the 9th best mark in this field. Compare that with the 0.17 strokes he lost per round in 2021 and you’re looking at nearly a full stroke improvement per round in approach play.

Alex Noren played 89 measured rounds last year and lost 0.12 strokes per round during the year. In 2022, he’s gained 0.82 strokes per round! Another full stroke improvement in the approach category.

Those are the two largest year-over-year improvements in the field.

Secret Comp Courses

Andy’s new course breakdown on has really opened the nerdy side of my brain recently. He makes the case for using a few different courses as comps for Innisbrook. I won’t spoil the exact courses because Andy deserves the clicks. But here are the best players on those courses for the last four years.

Would You Be Interested?

Would you be interested if I told you a golfer in this field checked all these boxes?

✅ 2nd in SG: T2G Last Week
✅ 2nd in SG: TOT over final three rounds
✅ Played Last 2 Holes at +3, still finished 5th
✅ Took a Garbage Penalty in R2, still finished 5th
✅ Runner-up Finish at Valspar Last Year

If I told you his name was Keegan Bradley, would you still be interested?

Back-To-Back Bracket Weeks!

Next week is the WGC Match Play Event! One of my favorite events of the year! There is also some small amateur thing starting this week.

If you like that collegiate amateur thing, I used math to create the optimal bracket. I know nothing about the game and it’s one of my most popular videos each year. Weird world. Click To Watch.

Baan Breaks Record

Anirban Lahiri did not win THE PLAYERS Championship. But if you backed him in the Jock MKT (stock market DFS), you were part of history. Lahiri closed IPO last week at $1.23/share and paid out $20.00/share. That’s a 1,500+% ROI — the largest in Jock MKT History. Here are the others:

Code “RICK” Play:

Rick Infiltrates The TOUR!

I was asked to join the PGA TOUR’s Twitter Space this week. We covered the course key stats, golfers to watch and a variety of other topics. The information is valuable but I also ask for your support to listen and share it. This is a moment where we can raise DFS/Betting/Data voices to a larger, broader audience. We can show the TOUR that there is a thirst for this type of content.


Remember, Live Chat is Wednesday at 6pm ET! Pushed it back this week with the late start.

Good luck

20 Million Reasons To Read | THE PLAYERS Championship | RunGood RunDown

20 Million Reasons To Read | THE PLAYERS Championship | RunGood RunDown

THE PLAYERS Championship | Stats, Trends & Things You Don’t Need To Know

TPC Sawgrass
Par 72 – 7,256 Yards
Fairways Hit: 59.48% (24th hardest out of 51)
Greens Hit: 66.31% (27th hardest out of 51)
Birdie or Better: 70.09% (21st hardest out of 51)
Scoring Average: 72.42 (16th hardest out of 51)

March vs. May

From 2007 to 2018, this event was held in May. In 2019, it was moved back to March and there are some significant differences in weather, grass surfaces, winds and much more. If you’re looking for “course history”, consider “short course history”. Here are the best players in the field since the March move (2019 & 2021).

RRG Has Just Gotten More Nerdy

For those of you living under a rock, Andy Lack has been the co-host of The Scramble with me since the start of the year. I love his expertise on course architecture and how that could be valuable in the betting/fantasy markets. We’ve come together to expand his role in the RickRunGood eco-system. What that means:

Andy will write (2) articles a week for
1) In-depth course breakdown with nerdy, actionable information.
2) Wednesday Final Thoughts piece with all available data, ownership and more.
This is really just the start for this relationship but it fits so well with the existing “brand” that is RRG and provides more value to subscribers. Win-Win.

If you don’t believe me when I say “in-depth”, here’s a real actual exert from this week’s article written by (a presumably human) Andy Lack.

Read the rest:

The Emergence of Cameron Young

I’ve been fawning over Young’s raw talent for the last few weeks, but I think he’s been even more impressive than I realized. Over the last 20 rounds, Young has been the 7th best playing in this field in raw Strokes Gained (+1.98). However, when you consider strength of field and looked at weighted strokes gained, Young actually gets better!

Expect A Little Carnage

Florida Golf is just built a little differently and it pans out in fantasy circles. Dating back to 2018, 24.44% of golfers who were priced $9,000 or more at THE PLAYERS Championship went on to miss the cut. Their average finish was 46.73, which is the 13th highest finish out of 36 qualifying events in that stretch. If you’re a fan of high-priced missed cuts, here are the events for you:

  1. The American Express: 40.54% MC Rate
  2. Sanderson Farms Championship: 38.89%
  3. Valspar Championship: 38.88%
  4. Honda Classic: 38.3%
  5. RSM Classic: 37.5%

The Par 5 Cheat Code

There’s another snippet from Andy’s Course Preview that highlights the rarity of Par 5s at TPC Sawgrass. Each of the (4) Par 5s have a birdie rate over 30% and a bogey rate over 8%. That’s unique and speaks to variance. I present to you, the best golfers in the field on the (4) Par 5s at Sawgrass (2, 9, 11, 16) dating back to 2016 …

Is PrizePicks Bankrupt Yet?

Seriously, has anyone checked on them? The amount of winning screenshots that I saw from last week was bonkers. In the last four Scramble Episodes, Andy and I have given out 17 props — 15 of them have won. That’s pace will likely dwindle at some point, but let’s try to stay hot. A few notable props early in the week:

Collin Morikawa over 10 Fairways (R1)
– Has hit 10+ FWs in 12 of his last 17 rounds
– Wet conditions could help

Paul Casey under 9 Fairways (R1)
– Wet condition could help Casey too, but he’s been brutal.
– under 9 FWs in ten straight rounds (!!)
– under 9 FWs in 4 of his last 5 at TPC Sawgrass

These lines will probably move within a few minutes of this email being sent out, so please be quick. Code “RICK” — Link:

Pivot Central

With a huge influx of casual players, soft pricing and potential carnage at TPC Sawgrass, there may never be a better time to — PIVOT! Here are the highest ranked golfers in DraftKings Points Gained, this year, who are averaging ownership below 10%:

  1. Cameron Young +24.9 (6.2%)
  2. Keegan Bradley +23.5 (6.1%)
  3. Francesco Molinari +21.3 (4.0%)
  4. Chris Kirk +20.7 (8.7%)
  5. Sepp Straka +18.5 (2.6%)

Good Luck!

Red Cardigan Season | Arnold Palmer Invitational RunGood RunDown

Red Cardigan Season | Arnold Palmer Invitational RunGood RunDown

Arnold Palmer Invitational | Stats, Trends & Things You Don’t Need To Know

Bay Hill Club & Lounge
Par 72 – 7,466 Yards – Bermudagrass Greens
Fairways Hit: 55.38% (13th hardest out of 51)
Greens Hit: 52.58% (5th hardest out of 51)
Birdie or Better: 18.13% (12th hardest out of 51)
Scoring Average: 73.02 (9th hardest out of 51)

Matty FitzPatty

I’m trying to look away but my eyes keep going back to Matt Fitzpatrick. He has (2) really good things in his favor this week:

  1. His ability to drive the ball — dating back to last year’s Genesis Invitational, he’s played 16 measured events. He’s gained strokes off-the-tee in 14 of them. The two that he lost were (-0.34) and (-0.08). Over his last 100 rounds, he’s gaining 0.47 strokes per round which is more than Dustin Johnson, Sungjae Im and Scottie Scheffler (to name a few).
  2. He seems to constantly show up in tough fields and/or tough courses. Stick with that same stretch of golf as above, he has (8) Top 11 finishes. The average Strength of Field on this events is 509.1 (PGA TOUR average is about 448). This doesn’t include his win on the DP World Tour nor his T2 in the DP World Tour Championship.
  3. Oh you want more? You want a third thing? Three straight Top 10s at this event.

Elite Course History For Rors

Rory McIlroy is really good at golf on nearly every course on planet Earth. However, he’s really really good at Bay Hill. He’s averaging 2.41 strokes gained per round over 28 rounds.

Since 2008, there are only (9) instances of a golfer gaining at least 2.4 strokes per round over 28+ rounds at a single course. Rory is on the list three times. Here are the qualifying players, sorted by SG.


Last Week’s Chalk is This Week’s … Chalk?

Sungjae Im (21.4%), Chris Kirk (14%) and Keith Mitchell (17.4%) were all popular options for last week’s Honda Classic. Maybe we should consider them again this week. Behind Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy, those three have gained more DraftKings points of anyone else with multiple starts here since 2018.

Easy Does It!

The 16th hole at Bay Hill is a par 5 that has historically played as the easiest hole on the course… by a mile.

So when PrizePicks released their single-hole props for this week and I saw no. 16 was on there — I started licking my chops! Of the 22 golfers available on PrizePicks, who have played the 16th hole before, they have combined to go under 64.49% of the time! Notables:

  • Scottie Scheffler unders (4/4 — 100%)
  • Corey Conners unders (6/8 — 75.0%)
  • Adam Scott unders (8/10 — 80.0%)
  • Justin Rose unders (14/20 — 70.0%)
  • Matt Fitzpatrick unders (17/22 — 77.27%)

Barring some ridiculous Thursday weather conditions, I think it’s time to smash the unders. You can play here: (Code “RICK”)

Harder Since 2020

There’s a really interesting nugget dropped by Andy Lack on this week’s Tuesday Scramble. Bay Hill hired a new Director of Grounds, Chris Flynn, in 2019. Since then, you can see a tangible difference in scoring conditions. Here’s a few notes:

If you wanted to focus research on the last two years, I think that might be more representative of current course set-up.


There’s so much more content available on my YouTube Channel including a full DFS Preview, Props, Matchups, Live Chats and much more. If you’re not subscribed, what are you even doing?!

Good Luck

Swinging Into Florida | Honda Classic RunGood RunDown

Swinging Into Florida | Honda Classic RunGood RunDown

PGA National
Par 70 – 7,125 Yards – Bermudagrass Greens
Fairways Hit: 57.06% (16th hardest out of 51)
Greens Hit: 61.59% (18th hardest out of 51)
Birdie or Better: 18.42% (13th hardest out of 51)
Scoring Average: 71.10 (6th hardest out of 51)

H2Oh, No!

Yes, yes — there’s water lurking everywhere. It comes into play on 15 different holes, to be exact. There are only six courses on the schedule where water is in play on 10+ holes. Here are the best players, historically, at those courses:

Mini Major

PGA National played 1.102 strokes over par last year, making it the 6th hardest course on the schedule and the 3rd hardest non-major. There were only nine courses in which the scoring average was at least one stroke over par last season. Here’s how the golfers in this field have historically fared on those courses (minimum 40 rounds):

  1. Sungjae Im +1.42 (72 Rounds)
  2. Aaron Wise +1.20 (60 Rounds)
  3. Rickie Fowler +1.19 (196 Rounds)
  4. Lee Westwood +1.18 (135 Rounds)
  5. Patrick Reed +1.17 (137 Rounds)

The Bear Trap

Holes 15, 16 and 17 make up “The Bear Trap”. One of the hardest stretches of holes in golf. The sickos over at PrizePicks created Bear Trap Props this week and set every golfer’s odds to 10.5 — imagine the sweat! Anyway, below is the historic scoring for each golfer with a prop available. A few notes:

  • In only 4 attempts, Patrick Reed has never played the Bear Trap in 10 strokes or less.
  • Shane Lowry has gone “over 10.5” strokes in 10 of his 16 trips through the stretch.
  • Rickie Fowler has looped it 20 times and has gone under 10.5 a staggering 17 (!!) times.

My favorite is Alex Noren under 10.5 for R1 — He’s a solid iron player and short-game wizard. Getting up and down to save par is right in his wheelhouse. He’s played the Bear Trap in 10 or fewer strokes 80% of the time.
Secure These:

If that wasn’t enough — #15 and #17 are both in “featured holes” for PGA TOUR Live so you’ll be able to see how these all shake out in real-time.

Finally! The Rahm … has come back … to #2!

For the first time since I can remember (probably a year), Jon Rahm is not the best player on TOUR over the Last 50 Rounds. That honor now goes to Patrick Cantlay. Since neither on this field, it doesn’t really matter. Just wanted to post it before I forgot!

Paper Cuts vs. Guillotine

Last week, Riviera — this week, PGA National. Since 2007, they have played to nearly an identical scoring average. Riviera is 71.53 and PGA National is 71.52.

Riviera is a par-71 and PGA National is a par-70 and we can talk about par being a social construct, yada yada yada — but it’s important to Fantasy Scoring. Here are the scoring types for Riviera which can kill you with multiple paper cuts versus PGA National which just chops off your head on one hole.

Golfers are twice as likely to make a double bogey at PGA National and nearly 8x more likely to make a score even worse.

Penny Stock Spaun

J.J. Spaun missed the cut at Riviera last week, which evened a streak of (3) straight Top 35s. Over his last 11 starts, he has (5) Top 30 finishes. That might not be appealing in all formats, since the likelihood of him winning is nearly 0% and the likelihood of him being offered in a pre-tournament matchup is even smaller.

However, he’s been crushing it in stock market DFS, where golfers simply have to beat their own expectation. He’s returned a profit in eight of his last ten starts in the Jock MKT.

Use code “RICK” for a $50 Deposit Bonus


I’m proud to announce that I’ve partnered with Blue Wire for my podcast, 300 Yards to Unknown. They are a great team with plenty of resources to continue to provide the best possible product. Also, I’ll be recording once a week from the gorgeous Blue Wire studio at the Wynn Las Vegas.

I couldn’t have done this without your support and I’m amped to keep creating more golf content. If you haven’t subscribed/reviewed/done all that good stuff, please take a few seconds to do so. Here’s the link to the podcast!

Good Luck