Jordan Spieth has learned as much about his mental approach to the game as he has about his golf swing in reclaiming his status among the world’s elite players over the past six months.
To “sum that up,” as he put it, links-style tests such as The Open Championship bring out the best in the Texan.
“There’s a lot of external factors over here, and I think that external is where I need to be living,” Spieth said after carding a 5-under 65 at Royal St. George’s on Thursday that left him one shot off the first-round lead held by South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.
Spieth’s last major title came at The Open in 2017. It was his most recent victory of any sort until breaking through at the Valero Texas Open in April.
Spieth is enjoying being back at The Open after the event was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said all the factors involved in playing links golf forces him to focus on every shot.
“Instead of just a driving range shot in Palm Springs, there’s always some shot you have to play that gives you a little bit of an advantage or certain club selections based on you hit a fade or a draw; they go 15 to 20 yards different distances than between which shot you play,” he said.
“You get less swing-focused and more shot-focused over here because the second you take your brain off of what you’re hitting, you may not find your ball.”
Despite his relative career struggles since his victory four years ago, Spieth entered the week leading all players in Open Championship scoring average since 2015 (69.6), according to the PGA Tour. His 65 marked his 13th Open round in the 60s in that span, also No. 1.
Spieth’s round was even more impressive considering he fell to 1-over with a bogey on the par-3 third hole. He rebounded with four consecutive birdies from Nos. 5-8 to make the turn in 3-under 32.
Spieth went bogey-free on the back, adding consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.
He will enter Friday tied with Brian Harman at 5-under, and he knows the next three days will require as much mental fortitude as swing plane thoughts in order to hoist the Claret Jug for the second time.
“Golf is a game played between the ears,” Spieth said. “When it’s not going great, you can certainly lose quite a bit of confidence in it.
“By no means do I feel like I’m where I want to be mechanically yet, but this year has been a really, really good progression for me, and that’s all I’m trying to do is just get a little bit better each day.”
–Field Level Media