Ahead of Match Play, Jordan Spieth 'very close' to finding game despite slump

jordan spieth Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of Match Play, Jordan Spieth 'very close' to finding game despite slump

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Ahead of Match Play, Jordan Spieth 'very close' to finding game despite slump

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With the Masters looming, Jordan Spieth is searching.

The 2015 winner of the green jacket and three-time major champion is battling the worst slump of his professional career heading into this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in the Lone Star State. It’s been a maddening, befuddling stretch that has tested the former world No. 1’s patience and temper and dropped him to No. 30 in the official world ranking.

“The toughest part is if everything looks good, but to me it doesn’t feel good,” the winner of 11 PGA Tour titles said after missing the cut in The Players Championship. “On the driving range, everything is top-notch. But it’s about finding that last piece. It’s very close.”

The numbers would imply a different story.

Spieth, 25, hasn’t won since he captured the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale in the summer of 2017. He’s gone 13 starts without a top-10 finish, his last coming in the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie. In eight starts this season, he hasn’t been better than 35th.

Other numbers are just as shocking for a man of Spieth’s gifts and resume.

In 2017, he was the best iron player on the PGA Tour; now he’s ranked 129th. In 2016, he was the second-best on the Tour in putting; now he’s 78th. He’s 188th in strokes gained: off the tee. He’s 124th around the green.

“It’s a work in progress from my long irons to my woods,” Spieth said. “As far as the full swing goes, it’s just going to require more repetitions. It was really good on the range, didn’t really miss a shot, but the same mistakes I was making earlier in the year, I was making on the golf course. I probably had one out of every two shots was good with the long clubs.”

Ahead of the Match Play, Spieth spent the last week working near his Dallas home under the mindful eye of his coach, Cameron McCormick. Normally, Spieth embraces the challenge of overcoming a slump, but at The Players, he said, “I’m getting tired of it now.”

But he knows he has to soldier on.

“In any career you’re going to have ups and downs,” Spieth said. “I’ve had them last two weeks. I’ve also had it to where the time around when I was missing Q-School, I had a year or two where I couldn’t get the ball in the hole from outside of three feet and I turned that in, in a couple years, to making everything.

“It’s just how it works. It’s just a matter of when the game is off, learning from it, finding out why it’s off, so that you don’t get as off next time in those situations. And then when it’s going well, what did you do to get there.”

The main positive in Spieth’s golf world right now is his work on the greens.

“The putting is back,” he said. “It’s very close to being top of the world again.”

There was optimism in his voice at TPC Sawgrass despite another inferior performance. He remains confident that despite his present troubles, there is promise in his future.

“I would like to be contending every single week, but as we go into the first major, I’m very, very happy with where the short game’s been,” Spieth said. “And just fine tuning the long game is just repetitions and I should be able to do enough over the next week to be ready for Austin let alone Augusta.” Gwk

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