How Jordan Spieth Completed a Remarkable Comeback
THAT was the year that was. We are only in September, but the Tour Championship has brought down the curtain on the PGA Tour’s 2020-21 season. They now have a two-week break before starting all over again.
And there is no doubt that this has been the season of the comeback, led by Stewart Cink with two victories, Hideki Matsuyama with his victory at The Masters and the indomitable Jordan Spieth, who couldn’t hit a barn door 12 months ago, was in danger of dropping out of the top 100 in the world rankings and now finds himself back at the top of the game.
Spieth is a one-off, a man who constantly chunters away to himself and to his caddie, Michael Greller. When he won The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2017 he had the golfing world at his feet. He had topped the rankings at the age of 22 and needed only the US PGA Championship to complete a career grand slam. And it was surely only going to be a matter of time before he achieved that.
But then it all went wrong. Spectacularly so.
He had always been wayward from the tee but all of a sudden he could barely hit a fairway at all. His wedge play suffered and, worst of all, his magical putting stroke deserted him. This was a man who had been able to hole putts for fun from all sorts of distances. But it all faded away.
His victory at Birkdale was his 11th - and three of those were majors. It hadn’t all been plain sailing, of course - he famously threw away The Masters in 2016 when he put two balls in the water at the par-three 12th hole while leading in the final round and eventually lost to England’s Danny Willett.
In 2018 Spieth missed the cut at the US Open - the first time he had not made the cut at a major championship since the 2014 PGA Championship. And he failed to make the 30-man field for that year’s Tour Championship.
Spieth began 2019 by missing the cut by a shot at the Sony Open. In February 2019, he entered the final round of the Genesis Open in a tie for fourth. But a final round of 81 destroys this hopes of victory. His sixth appearance at The Masters saw Spieth's worst finish at Augusta, a tie for 21st at five under par. After a tie for 54th finish at the RBC Heritage and a tie for 29th finish at the Byron Nelson, Spieth headed to Bethpage Black and the PGA Championship for his third attempt at the career grand slam. He would fall short, finishing six shots behind Brooks Koepka, but his tie for third was his his first top-10 finish of 2019. Another top-10 finish followed a week later at the Charles Schwab Challenge and at the Memorial Tournament. Spieth finished tied for 65th at the US Open before missing the cut at the Travelers. And for the second year on the trot he failed to make the field for the Tour Championship.
And his struggles continued in 2020 - at the end of January he fell out of the world’s top 50 for the first time since his first year on the PGA Tour.
Spieth began this year with a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. There was no sign of what was to come. And then the following week, at the Waste Management Open, he opened the tournament with back-to-back 67s, before equalling his career low round with a 10-under par 61 on Saturday to tie Xander Schauffele heading into the final round. On Sunday, Spieth shot a 72 to finish two strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka. Spieth's third appearance of 2021 came at the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-Am. Rounds of 65, 67 and 71 gave him another 54-hole lead. He finished with a 2-under par 70 to tie for third place, three strokes behind Daniel Berger. In his next three starts, Spieth finished in ties for 15th, 4th, and 48th places at the Genesis, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.
And then, in his eighth start of the season, Spieth won the Texas Open with rounds of 67-70-67-66, beating Charley Hoffman by two strokes, to end a 1,351-day spell without a victory. He followed this victory with a tie-third-place finish at The Masters. He then took four weeks off, during which he contracted Covid-19. Returning at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Spieth showed little signs of slowing down, opening with a 63 to tie for the first round lead. He eventually would finish tied for ninth, his sixth top ten of 2021.
Spieth was in contention to win again at the Charles Schwab before a final round round of 73 saw him drop into second place, two shots behind Jason Kokrak.
At The Open Championship at Royal St George’s he shot a final round 66, finishing runner-up on a score of 13-under, two shots behind Collin Morikawa. Spieth is back - and how.
- In 2015 he won five times, including The Masters, earned more than $12m with a scoring average of 68.94
- In 2016 there were two further wins and $5.5m in prize money and a scoring average of 69.52
- In 2017 there were three victories and $9.5 in earnings and a scoring average of 68.48
- In 2018 there were no wins but five top-10 finishes and $2.8m in earnings with a scoring average of 69.90
- 2019 was another winless season, with four top-10 finishes and $2.1m in prize money, averaging 70.45 per round
- In 2020 he managed just three top 10s and $1.1m and a scoring average of 70.85
This year has been a different story, with a victory, two seconds, two thirds and nine top 10s, as well as $6.5m in earnings, with a stroke average of 70.01.
With a baby on the way for Jordan and wife Annie, there is much to look forward to in 2022.
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