Has Jordan Spieth actually gotten better over last season? It might not even be a question of if, but a question of why.
The 22-year old reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year cruised to an 8-stroke victory Sunday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, shooting a staggering 30-under par. That's the second-lowest score to par by a 72-hole tournament champion in Tour history.
And in doing so, Spieth became only the second player since World War II to win seven times before the age of 23. The other player to do it was Tiger Woods.
Spieth continues to assert that Tiger comparisons are still way too early. And to a degree he's right. Tiger won 18 times in his first 77 starts as a pro, compared to Spieth's seven. But it also can't be overlooked that Spieth is running over opponents like a tractor over road apples. Just like Tiger in his prime.
Spieth ranked first in strokes gained putting, strokes gained tee-to-green, birdies, eagles, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, and putting average in the winners-only field at Kapalua.
In Spieth's last 19 events he's finished first or second in 10 of them, including two majors. The last time we saw anyone on Tour dominate like this was in 2000, when Woods won 9 times in 20 events, with three majors.
Yes, Spieth makes mindbogglingly difficult putts look routine. And yes, we all marvel at the magic of Spieth's short game. But the the reason Spieth's become so dominant isn't his chipping, or even his putting. It's because of how Spieth is wired.
Spieth is a relentless perfectionist. He's driven by an instinctive enthusiasm for competition. And he's genuinely wise beyond his years, with cognitive, reflective, and compassionate qualities that have been cultivated by his family.
When Spieth was he was a little boy playing baseball, he abhorred imperfection from himself and his teammates. The only way his family could get him to take piano lessons was if his teacher promised to enter him in piano competitions. And watching the daily struggles of his sister Ellie has taught him real problems don't have time for the ones we invent.
Spieth soaks in lessons from every shot, striving to find perfection in a sport impossible to conquer. He doesn't merely compete against the field each time he steps onto the course, he also competes against himself. And he places an emphasis on personal growth, rather than superficial markers of success.
If Spieth does indeed have a better season in 2016 than his five-win campaign last year (and it shouldn't surprise you if he does), it won't just be because of his prodigious skills as a golfer. It will also be because of who Jordan Spieth is as a person.