2018 British Open: Defending champ Jordan Spieth looks to free inner artist

Jul 16, 2018; Carnoustie, Angus, SCT; Defending champion Jordan Spieth hands back the Open Trophy the Claret Jug to R & A chief executive officer, Martin Slumbers before his practice round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Carnoustie Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports Ian Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports

2018 British Open: Defending champ Jordan Spieth looks to free inner artist

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2018 British Open: Defending champ Jordan Spieth looks to free inner artist

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth wants to free his inner artist to defend his British Open title at Carnoustie.

Think Seve Ballesteros, not Jack Nicklaus.

Former Royal Lytham golf professional Eddie Birchenough once encapsulated Ballesteros’ approach to the game when he said this of the three-time Open champion: “In a world of golfing draughtsmen, Seve draws free hand.”

Birchenough, one of the most respected teachers in the game, knew his stuff. Ballesteros won two Opens (1979, 1988) at Royal Lytham.

Spieth would probably kill for some of Ballesteros’ flair as he approaches the 147th Open. He’s hoping the capricious nature of links golf, especially in the extreme dry conditions Carnoustie presents this week, will allow him to defend his title with artistry.

The Texan has gone through swing changes this year to try to get out of a mini-slump. As a result, he’d become over technical and got caught between mechanics and feel. No wonder he took time off before handing back the old Claret Jug.

“I was overdoing it one way, overdoing it the other, and just trying to find middle ground,” Spieth said. “Getting away from the game allowed me to kind of come back with a set, natural setup and, therefore, working the same kind of swing feels.

“Coming to an Open Championship requires a lot of feel and imagination. I think that’s what I needed a bit of in my game.

“This week provides that opportunity where you don’t know how far the ball is necessarily going to go off the tee. You need to play to spots, and then use your imagination from there.”

That’s not to say Spieth hasn’t worked on his fundamentals. He has. They’re just not as important this week as they would be for regular PGA Tour events.

“I don’t have to worry about as much before I start my swing, and within my swing,” he said. “Is it as consistent as it’s ever been. Probably not. But can it be before the time we tee off? Absolutely. Does it have to be to win the tournament? No, because it requires so much feel over here. As long as I play to the right spots and give myself enough chances, it can be good enough.”

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