When Jordan Spieth finished off an historically inspiring victory at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, everyone wondered just how high he could go.
The then 23-year-old had just pulled off his third major championship, and joined the legendary Jack Nicklaus as the only players in Tour history to capture three legs of the Career Grand Slam before the age of 24.
One year later, the golf world is wondering what went wrong.
No, Spieth did not completely fall on his face, but the affable Texan is surprisingly winless over the past 12 months, and his game has trended precipitously downward; something nobody saw coming. In 2018, Spieth has suddenly become a very bad putter. The man who finished second on Tour in strokes gained: putting in 2016 is a shocking 175th in 2018.
Over the first half of the season, Spieth was able to maintain first-rate ability and performance in the other functions of his game, but since The Masters, he has found that difficult. With the rest of the system shutting down, Spieth has seen his results plummet.
In his past six starts, he has three missed cuts, and a T21 is his only top 40 among the three cuts he did make. A Thursday 78 even prevented him from playing the weekend at the U.S. Open.
During a press conference on Monday at Carnoustie, Spieth blamed his recent slump on a game that became too “technical.”
“The Open Championship requires a lot of feel and imagination, and I think that’s what I needed a bit of in my game,” said Spieth.
“I’d gotten very technical and very into making everything perfect instead of kind of the way that I normally play.
“So this week kind of provides that opportunity where you don’t know how far the ball is necessarily going to go off the tee. You need to play the spots, and then you have to use your imagination from there — hold the ball, ride the wind, a lot of different scenarios based on where pins are and the distance that you have.”
He proved his resiliency in this event last year, when he bounced back from a cataclysmic 13th hole on Sunday to lose his lead, only to play the next four holes in 5-under and win by three strokes.
In the right mindset, his current slump could be his 13th hole, and Spieth hopes this will be the week that he bounces back.
“I feel like I’m in a position now with every part of my game, I kind of attacked the places that really needed some strong work. That combination with an Open Championship, the way it needs to be played, I think, is a really good spot for me to kickback into shape,” said Spieth.
The reigning Golfer of the Year gets his defense underway on Thursday at 9:58 am, alongside Englishman Justin Rose and Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat.