Jordan Spieth Shows Up Strong and in Second Place at the British Open
Never tell Jordan Spieth he’s back.
“I hate it, ‘He’s back,'” he said last month. “I’ve never been anywhere.”
Granted, he still roamed the grounds of PGA Tour events in recent seasons, but Spieth, a former world No.1 in men’s golf, had fallen to 92nd in the standings just six months ago. Winner of three major championships before the age of 24, he had not won a tournament for four years. In addition, he looked and seemed lost, a state familiar to his trade and a state that can become permanent.
Then on Sunday in the final round of the British Open, Spieth was the biggest threat to catch up with eventual champion Collin Morikawa. Spieth is said to be two strokes behind precocious Morikawa, who has now won twice in just eight major league games.
Neither muscular nor swashbuckling, 24-year-old Morikawa wins with a mixture of calm and momentum, much like Spieth did when he won two majors in his first 10 starts from 2015 to 2017. .
But like it or not, Spieth’s performance at this year’s British Open would seem to prove he’s back – or that he’s at least reached the most important milestone of any comeback, which is confidence. in itself. The proof was in Spieth’s words off the 18th green at Royal St. George’s along the south coast of England.
“I played 100% well enough to win the championship,” he said. “And I haven’t felt that way in a major for a while. Under the major pressure of the championship one weekend, my swing held up well. And that’s a huge boost in confidence.
Spieth had plenty of chances to crumble, as he did in the majors in 2019 and 2020 when he finished tied for 65th or 71st or didn’t make the cut. Starting one stroke behind Morikawa on Sunday and two behind third-round leader Louis Oosthuizen, Spieth had two clumsy bogeys in his first six holes.
The shaky start came about 6 p.m. after slaughtering his last two holes in Saturday’s third round. Well placed in the middle of the fairway 60 meters from the 17th hole, Spieth nonetheless made a bogey. Then he missed a two-foot putt on the 18th hole for another bogey.
“It was about as upset as I finished a tour of the house,” Spieth said of returning to his rental home on Saturday night. Inside the door, Spieth asked, “Is there anything I can break?”
While his putter was nearby, he used it for practice instead. Yet his Sunday departure was more annoying than rejuvenating. But his state of mind right now is further proof that Spieth – here’s that word again – may be back.
“At that point, I said, ‘OK, now we’re going to do everything, and we’re going to see what happens,'” explained Spieth. Newly aggressive, he pulled off an eagle, four birdies and 11 pars, finishing with a four-under par 66. Spieth looked in control and acutely aware of what he had to do to compete.
“I did all I could,” he says. “I hit the putts I needed and hit shots that are always uncomfortable for me – I still have scar tissue, I always turn things around.
“But I’m proud to have made six cents in the last 12 holes of this golf tournament and put some pressure on Collin.”
He smiled and looked at ease, which he wasn’t at the major championships last year.
Spieth at this time was constantly tinkering with his swing. He was besieged by unsolicited mechanical advice and introspective advice on how to revamp his mental approach. It was as if everyone in the golfing world had an opinion on what Spieth needed to do to regain the golden touch that produced the three magical major titles he won from 2015 to 2017.
To his credit, Spieth didn’t listen much, never lost his temper, and he didn’t get rough with those whose job it is to ask questions about what was wrong.
Spieth, who turns 28 next week, acknowledged the daunting circumstances, continued and early this year was convinced he was on the verge of rediscovering his old form. The skeptics stayed. But this spring, he finished in the top five in three of four PGA Tour events. In April, he won the Valero Texas Open, his first victory on the circuit since 2017. He followed with a tie for third place at the Masters and a second place at the Charles Schwab Classic. His world ranking rose to 23rd place. Then came Sunday, which will dramatically increase this ranking.
Spieth’s last lap at the 2021 British Open was far from perfect. It was Morikawa day as golf crowned a new two-time major champion. But on Sunday, if Spieth was not, as he insists, back, then he was again only a few strokes away from being whole.
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