New year, new Jordan Spieth.
Not only will Spieth enter 2018 as a newly engaged man, but his confidence is soaring as prepares for his first start of the new year, the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
“I’m in a fantastic place from where I was last year,” Spieth said during his press conference Tuesday at Kapalua Resort.
Last year, Spieth was coming off a 2016 campaign in which he battled high expectations and outside criticism. After winning two majors and three other events among 15 top-10s in 2015, Spieth had a good year in 2016; it just wasn’t as good as the previous one – just two wins and eight total top-10s. And of course, there was that 2016 collapse at the Masters.
The pressure affected Spieth, who had gotten used to hearing how great he was. To hear the opposite, well, that was tough.
“I wasn’t prepared for the other way, personally, to be able to handle the stress that it put on me for a lot of the rest of the year that inhibited some success and inhibited confidence in my own game and my ability, which it shouldn’t have,” Spieth said.
Spieth rebounded to win three times in 2017, including the British Open, and netted 12 top-10s. He actually had a lower scoring average (68.846) than he did in 2015 (68.938), and hit more greens, too (70.01 percent compared to 67.87). Since winning the Travelers and at Royal Birkdale in back-to-back starts, Spieth has finished outside the top-10 just twice in eight worldwide starts entering this week.
“Last year, I had a lower scoring average and better statistics than I did in 2015, and my results were not identical to ’15,” Spieth said. “Actually, because of the lower scoring average, they should’ve been better than ’15, results-wise. But it’s a matter of where the cookie crumbles. It’s a matter of who else plays great that week when maybe you played great.”
Spieth said he had thoughts of 2016 at Augusta National going through his head during a poor final-round start at Royal Birkdale. Getting the job done at Royal Birkdale with a gutsy closing performance was huge for Spieth.
“The Open Championship just did wonders for me individually, not only my view of myself but my view on being the man in the arena,” Spieth said. “… I’m the one that’s out there, that’s putting it on the line every single week; I’m going to fail and learn, I’m going to succeed, but I’m the one in the arena.”
Man in the arena? Sound familiar? It’s from a Teddy Roosevelt he delivered in Paris in 1910 called “Citizenship In A Republic.” Spieth said his trainer, Damon Goddard, showed him the quote last summer, and it has since become his “favorite quote of all-time.”
Here’s the full quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“In sport, nobody’s perfect and you’re going to get criticized,” Spieth said. “It’s not the critic that matters, it’s the man that’s actually there risking everything. … I thought (the quote) was really profound and very much helped.”
Added Spieth: “There are going to be critics, but I feel like I’m in a great place. … I’m ready for anything – for failure, for success and everything in between.”