Jordan Spieth Is Trying to Play His Way Back Into Old Form: ‘It’s a Patience Test’

Jordan Spieth made an impressive run on Saturday, briefly tying for the lead after birdieing six of his first nine holes and settling for an 8-under-par 63 at the John Deere Classic, his lowest score in more than a year.

It was fitting that Spieth stirred up a supportive gallery at TPC Deere Run as only a few days earlier, the three-time major champion went down memory lane, recounting some of his earlier days at the Illinois tournament and offering a reminder of his fast ascent into the world of professional golf.

In 2013, as a 19-year-old without full status on the PGA Tour, Spieth holed a bunker shot to force a sudden-death playoff that he won for his first victory, earning a spot in the following week’s British Open.

Two years later, he won again, setting the stage for a dramatic week at St. Andrews, where Spieth arrived overnight at the Home of Golf and made a spirited run at winning a third straight major championship in 2015 before finishing a shot back of a playoff.

“It was kind of a dream-come-true ride, and I just kind of went where I needed to go and didn’t ask questions and just played golf,” Spieth said. “Now things are quite a bit different in what you can schedule and how you set your season and whatnot. A lot of times it’s hard. You want to play every week and you just can’t do it.

“Getting close to it this year, but back then it was like, well, I’ll just go where I need to go. I’m in next week? O.K., great. I’ll go there.

“I feel in some ways the same, but in a lot of ways decently far removed given most of my life is off the golf course and it’s quite a bit different.”

Spieth is 30 now, married and the father of two. He faded to a T26 finish Sunday in his first visit to the John Deere since that 2015 victory.

A year later, the tournament was scheduled for the same week as the Olympic Golf Tournament, of which Spieth opted out. Feeling it was wrong to skip the Olympics and play the Deere, he skipped that event too—and didn’t return until this year.

When Spieth didn’t win the Open in 2015, many believed the Deere victory and the subsequent travel took its toll. It created a “what-if” scenario that he readily dismisses.

“I was in control of the tournament with two holes to go at St. Andrews and just needed to go par-par for a playoff or par-birdie to win,” he said of the playoff he missed by one shot. (Zach Johnson won over Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen; Spieth bogeyed the Road Hole, the 17th.) So I certainly—I wasn’t off to a slow start. I was 21, too, so like the bounce back … I had no regrets by the end of that week.

“It was just part of my schedule and it was the week before and I like playing into majors when I can, especially in those early years. We had Akron right into the PGA (Championship) late in the season. I played into the Masters every year regardless where it was. I tried to play into the Open.”

That was part of a dream year for Spieth that saw him win five times, including the two majors and the Tour Championship.

He won twice the following year and three times in 2017, including the Open at Royal Birkdale.

Amazingly, just two of his 13 PGA Tour wins have come in the ensuing seven years. After a four-year slump, Spieth won in consecutive years, but now hasn’t won again in more than two years.

“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.”

Now ranked 34th in the world after starting the year at 15th, Spieth hasn’t had a top-10 finish since a tie for 10th at the Valero Texas Open the week prior to the Masters. Since then, he’s missed three cuts and his finish at the John Deere has been his best. Earlier this year, he was third at the Sentry and tied for sixth at the WM Phoenix Open.

He also finds himself out of the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings—which will assure signature event starts in 2025—and is still not assured of qualifying for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the top 70. He is 59th.

Spieth can appear maddeningly inconsistent, and takes his fans on a multitude of thrill rides. The things that carried him years ago—such as great iron play and putting—have fallen off. But Spieth is seemingly a better driver of the ball now. And it’s unclear how much an ongoing ligament problem in his wrist is impacting him.

There have been no excuses offered from Spieth and he is playing again this week at the Scottish Open, where he had said he would not compete. With the Open to follow, that means three weeks in a row.

“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,” Spieth said. “Masters was third in a row a number of years for me, too.”

Justin Rose and the British Open
Despite playing in last year’s Ryder Cup for Europe, Justin Rose was not exempt for the British Open next week at Royal Troon. The Open did away with the Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup team qualifications following the 2022 tournament at St. Andrews. And so Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, found himself out of the field having made it via no other category.

To his credit, the Englishman entered Final Qualifying at one of the four qualifying venues last week. He was the only player among 288 entered who was ranked among the top 250 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Making it through was far from assured, but Rose shot 8 under par for his 36-hole qualifier at Burnham & Berrow to secure another spot in the championship where he finished fourth as a 17-year-old amateur at Royal Birkdale in 1998. Rose is now 43.

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