WINDERMERE, Fla. — Jordan Spieth had been down this road before.
Three years ago at Isleworth, he was making the turn in the final round when he looked over at the scoreboard on the 18th fairway that showed he had a big lead. So it was eerie when he caught himself doing the same thing Sunday during the final round of the Hero World Challenge.
But there was one big difference.
Back then, Spieth was a freshman at Texas and won by eight shots in the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational for his first college title.
This time, he beat an elite field that included tournament host Tiger Woods, six major champions and 16 of the top 30 players in the world.
And he beat them even worse.
Spieth capped off a big finish to his second season as a pro when he closed with a 6-under 66 and set two tournament records to win by 10 shots over Henrik Stenson. Staked to a seven-shot lead in the final round, he opened with three birdies in four holes and turned the final three hours into a peaceful walk along the lakes and palatial homes of Isleworth.
“It was the most fun I ever had playing nine holes of golf,” Spieth said.
Spieth had an 11-shot lead after nine holes, ripped a drive over the corner of the bunker and then glanced at the lone leaderboard. And then he made another birdie. He coasted from there and even with a careless double bogey on the back nine, he finished at 26-under 262 to break the tournament record of 266 set by Woods in 2007 and Davis Love III in 2000, both at Sherwood Country Club in California.
The 10-shot victory was the largest margin of the year in golf, and broke the tournament record of seven shots that Woods had in 2007.
“Whether my emotions showed it or not I’m not sure, but inside we were really very pleased with the year and how it came to a close,” Spieth said. “This caps off the best golfing year that I’ve ever had.”
Spieth had set a goal of two wins, and that looked out of reach when he began the last leg of a long journey. He finished one shot out of a playoff in Japan, won the Australian Open by six shots and then turned in another dominant performance.
“The kid is playing great,” said Keegan Bradley, who had a 70 to tie for third with Patrick Reed (68). “You have to look at his past three events. He almost won them all. He’s a great player. I wouldn’t look more into it other than he dominated this week.”
Woods, in his first tournament in four months while recovering from back injuries, stubbed two more chips on the 13th hole for a triple bogey and closed with a 72. He tied for last place in the 18-man field with Hunter Mahan, 26 shots out of the lead.
Woods noted that Spieth closed with a 63 in Australia and flew some 9,000 miles to get to Isleworth.
“He’s playing some pretty special golf right now,” Woods said.
England’s Willett wins Nedbank Challenge: In Sun City, South Africa, Danny Willett spoiled Luke Donald’s birthday with a final-round 66 to charge past his English compatriot and win the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four shots on Sunday.
Willett claimed his second European Tour title ahead of Ross Fisher (68), while overnight leader Donald slipped to third in an all-English top three at Sun City.
Willett had an impressive amateur career but had won just once on the tour — at the BMW International Open in 2012 — before his $1.25 million payday at the first event of the 2015 European season. The 27-year-old Willett made six birdies and no bogeys on the final day and finished with weekend rounds of 65 and 66 for an 18-under-par total of 270 at Gary Player Country Club.
The former top-ranked Donald, seeking a first title in more than a year, couldn’t quite celebrate his 37th birthday in style and ended with a 73.
Behind Donald, Germany’s Marcel Siem was alone in fourth on 9 under.
, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat was fifth and Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez completed a solid weekend with back-to-back 69s for sixth.