PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Is it possible that the best thing about Jordan Spieth is that he is still learning? Or at least embraces the process needed to be a better player?
When Tiger Woods burst onto the PGA Tour in 1996 after three U.S. Junior and three U.S. Amateur victories, his combination of game, mental approach and success was far beyond that of any player coming out of the amateur ranks in golf history.
To borrow a baseball phrase, Woods was a five-tool player. As the years went on, he proved it.
In comparison, Spieth had two U.S. Junior titles in his amateur career, but the comparisons to Woods stopped after that.
The jump to the PGA Tour was challenging for Spieth, who needed sponsor exemptions after failing at Q-School.
Of course, a victory at the John Deere last season on a sponsor exemption ended any need for exemptions, earning a two-year Tour pass that has sent the 20-year-old off and running.
So with a near-miss at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and then playing his way into the final group on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth appeared to be moving in the right direction.
Yet he finished poorly in the final round at Torrey Pines and left San Diego with a bum ankle and frustrated at his inability to get it done on Sunday. He is focused on harnessing his emotions on the course and closing out tournaments in 2014.
“It’s something I need to work on,” Spieth said. “There’s a difference between a big, real competitive fire and then there’s a difference between that and showing it on the course.”
Spieth was frustrated on Sunday at Torrey Pines because he basically didn’t have a go-to shot that would give him a chance to win for the second time on Tour.
“I convinced myself that I didn’t know what shot to play,” Spieth said. “And that was rare, and that’s why more emotion came out than what should have in that event.“
After starting the third round one shot off the lead, Spieth shot 75 on Sunday and fell into a tie for 19th, five shots behind winner Scott Stallings.
“It’s just maturing,” Spieth said. “I just have more maturing to do about letting things happen, not trying to want it too bad on the weekend. And it’s something that my coach and I are really talking about a lot.”
Spieth returned home to Dallas on Monday and went right to his teacher, Cameron McCormick. With 20-degree temperatures, Spieth worked with McCormick for hours equally on his swing and his mental approach.
Now two weeks later, Spieth comes to Pebble Beach happy with his swing and committed to refining his mental game.
“I was very close at Torrey,” Spieth said, “and felt like had I just had that one shot, I could have pulled it off.”