Why Jordan Spieth’s season will be defined by his next three events, starting with 2024 John Deere Classic

Jordan Spieth arrived at the 2013 John Deere Classic in need of a victory to qualify for The Open Championship. At just 19 years old, he accomplished exactly that. More than a decade later, the soon-to-be 31-year-old returns to the site of his first career victory on the PGA Tour in need of something … anything … to salvage a season that has tested his patience.

The 13-time PGA Tour winner will make his first start at the John Deere Classic since 2015, a tournament at which he walked away with his second tournament title. Making a late addition to his 2024 playing schedule, Spieth’s showing at TPC Deere Run is just the beginning of his march towards the final major of the season in two weeks’ time.

“This year, I thought I would play here and take next week off and play The Open,” Spieth said. “Turns out, I’m adding and playing next week as well. My intent originally was to play here […] come back to a place I have great memories, try and get in contention, try and do all the things I like to do before a major, then maybe get over there a little early, not playing a tournament and play a few rounds and then play The Open. But I’m going to end up playing The Open as my third in a row, which has been a good spot for majors for me in the past.”

Without a top-25 finish since before the Masters in April, Spieth’s summer has been difficult to stomach. While the driving component of his game has reached new heights, other areas have fallen flat. His iron play is approaching lows not seen since his 2019 season, his putting is just slightly above average, and his around-the-green game is charting towards a career-worst output. Combine that with a potential wrist injury, and you get a difficult year Spieth has endured.

Perhaps most concerning when it comes to Spieth in 2024? His usual get-right spots have gone all wrong. Pebble Beach proved to be a fruitless trip. He missed the cut at the Masters for the second time in three years after making the weekend in his first eight appearances. The CJ Cup Byron Nelson, which saw him finish inside the top 10 in 2021 and 2022, produced another missed cut. His play at another Dallas-area event, the Charles Schwab Challenge, was similarly forgettable.

“This year has been a bit frustrating because I feel like I’ve been a better player than any of the previous few years,” Spieth said. “I just haven’t produced the results yet, had it all come together. It’s been a patience test this year, but it’s a better place than kind of having no idea what to do, where I’ve lived before. So, I can be patient if I’m confident about what I’m working on.”

Despite his struggles, Spieth remains on the inside track to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs; he is presently ranked No. 59 in the season-long race. Courtesy of a podium finish at The Sentry the first week of January and the enhanced FedEx Cup points that are up for grabs at signature events, Spieth finds himself in between qualifying for the signature events in 2025 via the top 50 in the FedEx Cup and missing the postseason entirely.

All that could change in this three-week stretch that has the chance to define Spieth’s season. That’s the beauty of golf. Spieth’s year could go from “maybe he’s no longer that Spieth” to “holy crap, Spieth has as many majors as Rory.” While that may sound absurd — particularly when you realize Spieth has registered just two wins in the last seven years — he thrives in the absurdity.

The John Deere proved to be a boon for him early in his career, and links golf — played at both the Scottish Open and The Open Championship — led to success for him, no matter Spieth’s form. It’s an arena in which any version of Spieth can thrive, and it’s an arena in which a confident Spieth can thrive … but only if he finds something in his game beginning this week at the John Deere Classic.

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