Three-time major champ Spieth finds form after tough year
Washington (AFP) – Jordan Spieth has struggled all year with putting woes and swing issues, but the three-time major champion is finding his form just in time for the Ryder Cup.
The 25-year-old Texan qualified for the U.S. squad that will defend the trophy against Europe next month in France, but he hasn’t won since capturing last year’s British Open, beset by troubles in all areas of his game.
“I got pretty far off in my golf swing from The Players on,” Spieth said, starting down a wrong path for weeks in May and June. I spent literally two months nailing in the wrong thing and I was trying to climb back out of it. And that’s unusual. I never had that in my career.
“I’ve been working the right direction back, just like with the putting. The putting started to improve around the Players, after the Masters, but the swing got off. So it has been a year of having them both not on at the same time and I know they are both on the rise, and that feels good.”
Spieth made a breakthrough at The Northern Trust event last week, the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs that lead into the Ryder Cup.
“I really found kind of the setup that I used to putt with. I’ve been searching for it for a long time and I found close to 100 percent of it,” Spieth said. “I had been making a lot of progress over the last month with the putter and the results came through.”
Spieth went back to videos, analyzing and studying head and body positions in detail to find simple areas where his precision movements have altered.
“I went to to try and search for it, and it’s always the simplest stuff with us,” Spieth said. “But it was more challenging than I’d like this year.”
More fun this year
Spieth, the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion, still shone in the majors despite his season of struggles. He was third at the Masters, shared ninth at the British Open and shared 12th at the PGA Championship in trying to complete a Career Grand Slam.
“Actually I had more fun this year than 2016, I would say. This year, I’ve done a great job of recognizing and being patient,” Spieth said. “I wasn’t having much fun for the first three months of the year, and since then, it has not been a bother to me, the results or anything. I’ve really kind of embraced how I feel, like I’ll be better than ever going forward because of what I’ve learned this year.”
It’s that hint of confidence, sensing a better future after grinding his way through a difficult campaign, that makes Spieth a force and one of the world’s top-ranked talents.
“Feel like I stepped into the playoffs with my game in the best shape it has been this entire year,” Spieth said. “I feel like throughout the swing I know where it’s at, where it needs to be.”
Spieth matched the Masters tournament record of Tiger Woods in winning the green jacket three years ago and became the youngest U.S. Open champion since 1923 the same year.
At a time when older stars such as Woods and Phil Mickelson remain factors and big hitters like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson win often, Spieth leads a new generation of U.S. stars.
“The game’s in a cool place right now,” Spieth said. “You have a mixture of Tiger and Phil playing awesome golf, DJ being number one in the world, Bubba back to winning a few times in a year. And then you have your mid-20s players that are able to compete in any tournament as well.
“It shows what golf’s all about. You can play when you’re 8 years old and you can play when you’re 80.”