No need to panic about Jordan Spieth's sub-par putting so far in 2018

Jordan Spieth Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

No need to panic about Jordan Spieth's sub-par putting so far in 2018

PGA Tour

No need to panic about Jordan Spieth's sub-par putting so far in 2018

Jordan Spieth has a reputation for being one of the best putters on the planet, but heading into this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Texan is near the bottom of the list in strokes gained: putting for the 2017-18 PGA Tour season. Ranked No. 195 out of 206, his strokes gained: putting average is -0.918, which means he gives up almost a full shot to the average PGA Tour player over 18 holes based solely on the quality of his putting.

A knee-jerk reaction might be that something is wrong with the world’s third-ranked player, but that’s probably not the case. In reality, Spieth has rarely putted well during the West Coast Swing. This is the third time he heads into the week of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am ranked worse than 150th in strokes gained: putting. In one of those seasons, 2015, Spieth went on to win two major championships and contended in all four.

As the table below shows, 2016 was the only year when it could be said that Spieth wielded a hot putter at this point in the season.

Season SG: Putting Before Pebble Beach SG: Putting Season-Ending Average
2013 -0.758 (158th) 0.182 (60th)
2014 0.142 (85th) 0.399 (20th)
2015 -0.257 (151st) 0.571 (9th)
2016 1.909 (1st) 0.758 (2nd)
2017 0.414 (46th) 0.32 (42nd)
2018 -0.918 (195th) ???

Spieth has played in just three PGA Tour events this season, plus the Hero World Challenge, a no-cut exhibition hosted by Tiger Woods. His stats are based on just 10 measured rounds, so bad putting in three of the four rounds at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and a bad day on the greens during the third round of the following week’s Sony Open carry extra weight. But it is worth noting that while Spieth’s strokes gained: putting in the third round at the Sony Open was -1.429, he still shot a 4-under 66 that day.

Peter Kostis, an established golf coach and CBS on-course analyst who will walk the fairways at Pebble Beach this week, said he and colleague Gary McCord have agreed that paying attention to putting stats during the West Coast Swing is foolish because the greens tend to be soft and bumpy, and several rounds are not tracked by ShotLink. Two of the rounds this week, at Spyglass Hill and Monterey Penninsula Country Club, will not have ShotLink stats.

In his 10 ShotLink-measured rounds, Spieth’s strokes gained: tee-to-green average is 1.902, fourth-best on the PGA Tour, and his scoring average of 70.416 ranks 41st.

Spieth surely would like to be putting better, and he might putt well this week. But even if he struggles, there is no reason to think the former World No. 1 has lost his putting touch.

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