What Has Happened to Jordan Spieth?
Article by Sports Journalist Josh Lees
Jordan Spieth recorded his second highest score as a pro in the final round of the Genesis Open on Sunday after shooting a horrid 10-over-par, 81 to continue his recent weekend troubles.
The three-time major champion got off to a superb start last Thursday, carding an impressive opening round 64 (-7) putting himself in a commanding position. Spieth then shot two 70s to put him T4, keeping him well in the hunt heading into the final round at Riviera, however what was to follow was definitely one to forget for the 25-year-old.
After birdieing the first hole, Spieth may have thought he was in for an exciting final round, but the gruelling California conditions would prove him wrong and hit him more than most. A bogey, a double bogey and a triple bogey (which included a three put from four feet) would follow in the next four holes before another bogey on eight left him six over through the first nine.
Little did Spieth know the worst was still yet to come as FIVE shots in the bunker (we’ve all been there) at the tenth resulted in him carding a quadruple bogey eight to put him ten-over-par through ten holes. The American did manage to salvage some respect on his card by playing to par on his final eight holes, but the damage was already done as Spieth dropped from inside the top five to outside the top 50 for the tournament.
These weekend shakes are nothing new for the 11-time Tour winner, just last week at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am Spieth found himself one off the lead going into the weekend but a +2 and +3 on Saturday and Sunday resulted in a T45th finish.
A week prior to Pebble Beach he again squandered his chances at the Farmers Insurance Open. After opening up with an impressive 65, three consecutive 72s again resulted in him slipping off the pace and into another average finish in 35th, well below par of what he is capable of.
His weekend worries are turning into a bigger and bigger problem as time goes on, there is no doubt that Spieth is one of the best in the game and when he broke onto the big stage in 2013 many were predicting the American to go on a ‘Tiger like’ dominance of the sport, however his Saturday and Sunday hiccups seem to be causing a real problem in asserting his control and power on the game, with his Open Championship victory of 2017 being his most recent title success.
Who knows, without his Masters meltdown at Augusta in 2016, Spieth could have and most probably would have gone onto win the tournament over Danny Willett and become only the fourth man to win back-to-back green jackets at Augusta, joining the names of Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
Despite his recent troubles the 2015 Masters champion has been playing some impressive golf this term, including that 64 at Riviera, following a disappointing campaign last term. A bogeyless round with seven birdies showcased vintage Spieth, especially in and around the greens with two chip-ins and 12 putts in 12 holes giving him the co-lead in a weather affected round. This showed that there is an underlying inconsistency to his form on the greens – at times brilliant – but demons with the putter have reared their head during the weekends, (shown on Sunday with his abysmal three-putt on four) and are partly to blame for his end of tournament shakes.
At the height of his dominance Spieth finished in the top two for lowest putting average on tour four years in a row from 2014 to 2017. However, in recent times where his ability to convert impressive early performances into weekend wins has dropped, his average has fell well behind his fellow players in the putting ranking, finishing T48th last year, and sitting in 19th this year.
There has also been worrying signs for Jordan at the other end of the golf course in recent times compared to seasons past. In 2015, arguably Spieth’s most impressive season on Tour he averaged a driving accuracy of just under 63%, fast forward to this term and this has dropped to just below 50%.
So, it’s clear to see Spieth’s game is not what it was in past seasons and maybe this is to blame for his weekend wobbles and dry up in wins, and the longer his run persists, the doubts will increase, but the Texan will be hoping for better days ahead, particularly at Augusta in April, where these Saturday and Sunday struggles will hopefully be a distant memory.
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