PGA Tour

Spieth looking to smile again

2016-05-18 20:46
Jordan Spieth (AFP)

Miami - Jordan Spieth is hoping to play with a smile on his face at the AT&T Byron Nelson this week as he bids to shake off the gloom that has enveloped his golf game since his dramatic collapse at the Masters.

The former world number one heads to his hometown tournament in Texas after a disappointing performance at last week's Players Championship, where he failed to make the cut for a second straight year.

The 22-year-old Texan attributed his problems at TPC Sawgrass -- his first tournament since a final round meltdown at Augusta where he blew a five-shot lead on the back nine -- to an absence of fun in his game.

"I'm beating myself up a little bit too much on the golf course and it's affecting me," Spieth reflected after his Players disappointment.

The two-time major winner is hoping that home comforts at the Byron Nelson in Irving -- a tournament he first played in as a 16-year-old high school student in 2010 -- will help him recover his lost sense of joie de vivre.

"Always fantastic to be back at this event and I'm going to walk around with a smile on my face this week and hopefully work my way into contention," Spieth told reporters ahead of Thursday's opening round.

On his debut in the event as an amateur, Spieth finished tied for 16th, after carding a respectable 276 -- 68-69-67-72.

Before that first appearance six years ago, Spieth would regularly attend the tournament as a spectator with his father.

"This is the event my dad and I would hop the fence to come in and watch," he said. "We also paid for tickets some years. Some years we had to maybe park too far away. I think one year he got his car towed when we were parking little too close. I think I remember that," he recalled.

"But, you know, this is my hometown event, the event I learned to love golf at -- and to try and win this week would be a very, very special moment for me."

Spieth acknowledged however that the demanding 7,166-yard par-70 layout at the TPC Four Seasons had caused him problems in the past.

"It's been kind of a tough event for me. The golf course hasn't suited my game as well as it did in those early couple years but I got some momentum off of the last year and belief that we can work our way into contention," he said.

The determination to have fun at the tournament could be a double-edged sword, however.

Spieth cautioned that while the presence of friends and family in the galleries should help, there was a risk it could end up adding to his pressure.

"There's a potential for either side and I need to really focus on that on staying on the positive because I can hit either extreme this week, trying so hard to play so well in front of so many friends and family and if you're not quite doing it it can be really tough to kind of hold it together," Spieth said.

"But, at the same time, if I can engage with my friends and family maybe and kind of smile more, you know, it's only going to help me on the course if I'm approaching it like it's just another round with friends."

Spieth is also determined to close the gap on Australian world number one Jason Day at the top of the rankings pile.

Day stretched his lead with a superb wire-to-wire victory at the Players last weekend which has left Spieth scrambling to make up ground.

Day's red-hot form was something Spieth is hoping to regain. "I know that feeling. Certainly didn't have it last week. And, you know, I'm looking to get that back and definitely there's some motivation there," Spieth said.

"I think I can win the next two events and I'm still not going to surpass him in the World Rankings.

"He's separated himself and that bothers me and it motivates me."


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