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Spieth runs away with title in first event of ’16

AP

The view from the top looks as spectacular as ever for Jordan Spieth.

He was standing on the 18th fairway Sunday at Kapalua, his victory in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions easily secured, when his thoughts were interrupted by a comment from caddie Michael Greller: “Way to make a statement.”

The statement was nearly as big as his eight-shot victory.

Coming off a year that Spieth knows will be tough to match — the Masters, U.S. Open, five wins, the FedEx Cup — the 22-year-old Texan backed up his sage comment at the start of the week that 2016 wasn’t about an encore because that would mean the show was over.

Spieth crushed the winners-only field by closing with a 6-under 67 to become only the second player in PGA Tour history to finish a 72-hole tournament at 30-under par or lower. An 8-foot birdie on the final hole put him at 30-under 262, one short of the record Ernie Els set at Kapalua in 2003.

“I thought that was cool,” Spieth said about his caddie’s comment. “It’s not what I’m going for. It’s not why I do what I do. I don’t do it to talk back to any people that believe it’s not possible or ‘He got a lucky year’ or something.”

Spieth won for the seventh time on the PGA Tour, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to get that many at age 22 since complete records began in 1970.

That requires a little context.

Spieth won his seventh title in his 77th start as a pro. Woods won his seventh PGA Tour event in his 38th start, and he had 18 wins in his first 77 tournaments.

Even so, comparisons with Woods in golf can only mean great play, and no one is playing better.

“Nowhere near,” Spieth said on how his record stacks up with Woods. “I don’t think there’s any reason to compare. It’s awfully early. We’re excited about where we’re at to start our career. What Tiger has done, I can’t imagine ever being done. But it’s nice to be in that company. It’s fantastic being out here with what we’re trying to do, and doing it well.”

Staked to a five-shot lead, Spieth made two straight birdies around the turn to restore his margin, and he spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up sights of the sun and surf on Maui. The view of him at No. 1 in the world only looks daunting to the guys trying to catch him.

Patrick Reed got within three shots before he stalled on the back nine and Spieth poured it on with a combination of great shots and smart shots. It was like last year never ended, and that’s what Spieth wanted.

“I felt like it was short three-week break and continue what we were doing last year,” Spieth said. “That’s the way I’ll keep on thinking about it. It worked this week. All parts were firing.”