Masters

Masters: What's wrong with Jordan Spieth?

2019-04-12 07:00
Jordan Spieth (Getty)

Augusta - Jordan Spieth has become an afterthought on the PGA Tour.

Even at the course where he usually plays so well.

Adding another entry to his yearlong slump, Spieth struggled to a 3-over 75 on Thursday in the opening round of the Masters and was a whopping nine shots off the lead. Not exactly the sort of start he was looking for at a major championship that he won in 2015, where he's twice been a runner-up and finished third another time, a big reason he calls it "my favourite tournament in the whole world."

Up to now, Spieth's worst showing at this place was a tie for 11th in 2017.

Making the cut is his main priority at the moment.

Spieth's misery was epitomised at the par-3 sixth hole, where he pushed his tee shot right of the green and followed with a terrible pitch, the ball rolling back off the front. He ran the chip 8 feet past the cup and missed the putt for a double bogey.

It was more of the same at the ninth.

Spieth's approach to the tiered green caught the front slope and rolled back into the fairway. The Texan tried to pitch it up with his third shot, only to come up short again, watching helplessly as the ball rolled back to where he was standing in what anyone watching at home probably thought was a replay. He finally kept one on the green with his next swing but settled for his third bogey on the front side.

Up to now, Spieth's wedge game had been the only thing keeping him somewhat in the game.

On a sunny day at Augusta National, that seemed to abandon him as well.

Spieth pulled things together somewhat after the turn, stringing together a bunch of pars to go with a birdie at the par-3 16th, when he stuck his tee shot 8 feet from the flag and rolled in the putt. But all that did was keep him from eclipsing the worst score of his Masters career.

While it may have seemed strange to the casual fan to see Spieth struggling so mightily, this was really nothing new.

Since his third-place showing at last year's Masters, when he finished two shots behind Patrick Reed, Spieth has managed only one top-10 finish - and that's when he fell apart in the final round of the British Open. The 25-year-old Texan bumbled his way to a 76 that put him four shots in arrears of winner Francisco Molinari, who certainly played well enough to win but benefited mightily from Spieth's collapse.

Turns out, that performance is the highlight of Spieth's past year.

In 21 other stroke-play events, he's missed the cut six times and finished an average of 14 shots behind the winner in the other tournaments.

FOURTEEN!

An afterthought, indeed.

And maybe in a bit of denial.

"I feel like my recent results aren't a tell of where my game is actually at," he said a few days ago.

"I feel really good about my game, where it's at, heading into this week. It's just a matter of trust in the stuff that I'm working on, and I don't feel like I have to play well. I don't feel like there's any added pressure this week. I feel kind of under the radar, which is really nice."

Of course, it would be foolhardy to write off a guy who's already won three major titles and needs only the PGA Championship to complete a career grand slam.

But some wonder if Spieth's physical limitations - he's never been one to boom it off the tee - has left him too little margin for error when he's struggling with the putter and short game.

As usual, Spieth ranked only 61st out of 87 players in driving distance (291.7 yards, nearly 37 yards shy of leader Rory McIlroy), but he also placed 70th in driving accuracy, 56th in greens hit in regulation, 32nd in proximity to the hole, 30th in scrambling and 22nd in number of putts.

Spieth didn't speak with the media after his round.

He headed straight to the range.

There were certainly plenty of things to work on.

Scores after Thursday's opening round of the 83rd Masters tournament at par-72 Augusta National Golf Club:

66 - Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA)

67 - Phil Mickelson (USA)

68 - Ian Poulter (ENG), Dustin Johnson (USA)

69 - Justin Harding (RSA), Adam Scott (AUS), Jon Rahm (ESP), Kevin Kisner (USA), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA)

70 - Corey Conners (CAN), J.B. Holmes (USA), Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Gary Woodland (USA), Tiger Woods (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA), Cameron Smith (AUS), Patton Kizzire (USA), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Jason Day (AUS)

71 - Tony Finau (USA), Charley Hoffman (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Kevin Na (USA), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Bernhard Langer (GER), Matt Kuchar (USA)

72 - Andrew Landry (USA), Keith Mitchell (USA), Kevin Tway (USA), Mike Weir (CAN), Kim Si-woo (KOR), Branden Grace (RSA), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Kyle Stanley (USA), Webb Simpson (USA), Viktor Hovland (NOR), Marc Leishman (AUS), Li Haotong (CHN), Jimmy Walker (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Bubba Watson (USA)

73 - Takumi Kanaya (JPN), Charles Howell (USA), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Patrick Reed (USA), Xander Schauffele (USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Sandy Lyle (SCO), Martin Kaymer (GER), Alvaro Ortiz (MEX), Jovan Rebula (RSA), Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Patrick Cantlay (USA), Justin Thomas (USA)

74 - Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Trevor Immelman (RSA), Devon Bling (USA), Zach Johnson (USA)

75 - Adam Long (USA), Aaron Wise (USA), Danny Willett (ENG), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Matt Wallace (ENG), Alex Noren (SWE), Satoshi Kodaira (JPN), Justin Rose (ENG), Jordan Spieth (USA)

76 - Michael Kim (USA), Stewart Cink (USA), Keegan Bradley (USA), Shugo Imahira (JPN)

77 - Kevin O'Connell (USA), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Larry Mize (USA)

78 - Shane Lowry (IRL), Fred Couples (USA), Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)

80 - Ian Woosnam (WAL), Vijay Singh (FIJ)

81 - Paul Casey (ENG)

82 - Angel Cabrera (ARG)

Read more on:    masters  |  jordan spieth  |  golf

 

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