SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Don’t look now but Jordan Spieth put together two consecutive rounds at TPC Scottsdale in the 60s for the first time since the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August.
Spieth, who has been mired in a slump in which he has missed four cuts in seven previous starts this season and plummeted to World No. 92, opened with a pair of 4-under 67s at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, giving himself a much-needed boost of confidence heading into the weekend.
“Probably higher than it’s been in a long time,” he said of his confidence level. “Still certainly not at 100, not feeling like I have my ‘A’ game, but I feel like it’s trending that direction.”
Spieth, 27, who trails Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley by three strokes, called it a “tale of two rounds.” He hit just two of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens as he continued to spray his tee ball, primarily left. But his putter bailed him out. In contrast, on Friday, he found 10 fairways and 16 greens and his putter cooled off.
“It felt like a 6- or 7-under day,” he said of his second-round score, “and this is one of the first times I’ve almost been disappointed shooting 4-under in a round in long time, and that’s a good sign. Versus yesterday it was one of those, like, all right, I shot 4 (under), but I got away with murder.”
Spieth hit 10/14 fairways today and 16/18 greens today.
This is just the 20th round of his career — and first since 2019 — where he hit at least 10 fairways and 16 greens.
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) February 5, 2021
So which player does Spieth most resemble? It’s hard to say, but Golf Channel analyst Arron Oberholser said Spieth is making progress to rediscover the magic that led to three major championships between 2015 and 2017, but no victories since the 2017 British Open.
“I saw a one-way miss last week,” Oberholser said of Spieth, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines. “It was a big one-way miss and he didn’t hit a lot of fairways, but it was a one-way miss.”
After Friday’s round Oberholser texted: “He has to pick a shot and dial in a cone for that shot dispersion.”
This week, at least anyway, Spieth is going with a draw off the tee, and it worked on Friday.
“I almost knew kind of through transition that they were going to be good drives,” he said. “I felt like when I really stood in that draw and really exploded off my right side, cleared out, some really good things happened.”
He added: “I know exactly what I did to produce those. I know the difference in the bad ones yesterday to the good ones today. It’s just about repping it in, continuing to trust it and just being OK with the fact that it’s going to take time for it to be fully integrated with the stuff I’ve been working on.”
Spieth stiffed a short iron and made birdie at No. 10, his first hole of the day, and strung together three birdies in a row beginning at No. 13, including a 30-footer at 14. He gave a stroke back at No. 16, but toured his first nine in 33. Spieth surged into contention with a 33-foot eagle putt at the par-5 third.
Eagle for @JordanSpieth.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2021
But then Spieth’s round stalled as he made five pars in a row and ended his day with a sloppy bogey from 125 yards and the middle of the fairway at his final hole. Spieth’s strong start didn’t go unnoticed by U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker.
“I’m looking for him to just get right up in contention, and I don’t think it’s going to take much for him to get back in there and win again,” he said. “He’s done it so much in such a short period of time, even though it’s been a few years, he knows how to do it. He showed us he knows how to do it when he was winning all those events and majors. I think when he gets in there it’s going to be like riding a bike again and he’s going to feel comfortable and do well with it.”
While Stricker never won a major championship, he went through his own lean years and knows from experience what it’s like to be lost at times. He won the Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year, not once, but twice.
“I think as soon as he figures out a few things here and there, he’s going to be right back where he was. And that’s the hard part, right; he had such great years, career years, in just a short period of time, that all of us when we do that we have those expectations that we need to do that every year, and that’s just not possible out here,” Stricker said. “There’s so many good players and the talent pool runs deep. It’s just not fair for everybody like us or him to believe that he can put those numbers up year after year.”
Before Spieth’s fan club gets too excited about his latest resurgence, he will have to prove he can do it over the weekend. He ranks 20th in scoring average since the beginning of the 2017-18 season in Rounds 1 and 2, but 148th in Rounds 3 and 4. Speith isn’t going to sweat the small stuff; he’s sticking to his process.
“It’s just about trusting what I’m doing here. If I shoot 6-under tomorrow, awesome. If I shoot even but I trusted it and it felt really good and I just didn’t get the right breaks or lipped out or something, really, that’s fine,” he said. “I know that once I am hitting the positions I want to hit in the swing, I’ve got the tempo I want, I’ve got the right swing feels, I know that I’ll end up progressing forward, shooting a lot of low rounds and winning golf tournaments because I’ve done it.
“It’s nice to have been there and been able to be the best in the world. You know you can do it. And so for me, it’s about, again, more the feels than it is the results right now, and obviously if I get in the thick of things on this weekend, then I’ll tap into that competitiveness that I love to have, and hopefully it’ll be a very confident competitiveness drawing back on good memories.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/05/phoenix-open-jordan-spieth-67-67/