Jordan Spieth’s best finish in 21 months has the golf world buzzing.
Was the 61 he shot at the Waste Management Open on Saturday a sign that the three-time major champion is “back”? Or was the ugly 72 he shot on Sunday – the worst among the top 10 finishers – more evidence that the 27-year-old former prodigy is still painting by numbers around the course?
“It was a nice confidence boost,” Spieth said Wednesday of contending at TPC Scottsdale. “I love that I trusted what I was working on all four rounds, knowing that it wasn’t necessarily going to fully be there. And I think that kind of trust and that belief just pays off.”
Spieth hasn’t tasted victory since The Open Championship in 2017 and doesn’t have a top-three finish since the 2018 Masters.
Could the stars finally re-align this week?
Spieth is coming off a T4 and arrived at an event this week where he has a win and four top-10 finishes among eight starts. Better yet, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am lacks a top-10 player and boasts only three ranked within the top 20 in the world.
Spieth is ranked No. 69. A far cry from his days at No. 1, but 23 spots better than he was entering the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“It makes me want to go out and work hard this week and try and get in the same position because I know that if you put yourself in that position enough, you start hitting the pins and they go in or the ball lips in on Sunday and it goes your way,” he said. “So, I didn’t leave feeling like I won. I actually left, fortunately, I felt disappointed that I didn’t win.”
Spieth fully acknowledges that a one-year slump has turned into far more than that. Always known for his artistic touch rather than for a textbook golf swing, Spieth’s game spiraled into a desperate search to reclaim his form.
After three years of what he called a “stubborn” attitude toward accepting advice, Spieth hit somewhat of a reboot last fall. That included asking noted swing coach Butch Harmon for feedback on what he and coach Cameron McCormick had been working on.
“You go out and put in all the hours, but if you’re not necessarily, one, fully trusting what you’re doing and, two, it’s maybe not the, exactly what you need to be doing, you’re putting in hours going the wrong way,” Spieth said. “That’s just extra time that it takes to, once you’re going the right way, to be able to get things back to where you want.
“So, getting over kind of scar tissue of certain holes and rounds that you’ve played at different places where you just didn’t have it that day, versus being able to just draw back on positive memories for a number of years at places, is something that is a new and different challenge over the last couple years.
“But once you start to see light at the end of the tunnel, get a little bit of confidence, you just kind of want to stick with what you’re doing and keep the train rolling and kind of reverse that trend.”
Spieth shot an 81 in the second round of the U.S. Open in September, securing his third consecutive missed cut. He has missed two more cuts in six events since, but he also had several positive rounds in three made cuts before breaking through with last week’s T4 after playing in the final group on Sunday.
“It was about just kind of just being myself, not caring about how heightened it is,” Spieth said of the struggles he has endured since reaching No. 1. “But instead allowing the belief in the system, belief in my age, saying ‘you could start at 27 and have an unbelievable career, so let’s just take our time, make sure we’re getting on the right path.’ It just took a little longer than I would have liked and I feel like I’m on the right path.
“It doesn’t mean that I’m going to have massive success immediately. I saw a little bit of success last week, but for me, it’s about the feels more than it is the results and I know when it starts to feel a certain way that the results follow.
“And that’s what I’m trying to tap into.”
–Field Level Media