Ashkan Motamedi Looking at what happened to Jordan Spieth
You are in a time machine you go back to 2017 July 23rd Jordan Spieth had just won 2017 Open Championship his 3rd major. Through a back nine charge after giving up the lead to Matt Kuchar on the 13th hole. Spieth went five under next five holes in route to becoming Champion Golfer of the year. At just age 23 Spieth became the second player in history only to the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus to when three out of four majors before his 24th birthday. Spieth on top of the golf world and playing fantastic golf went into the PGA Championship looking for the career grand slam and drawing comparisons as Golf next big thing. We are now back in the present day April 20th 2019 and Spieth has not won since that Open Championship and the drought approaches two years. Now down to 34th in the World Golf Rankings the question is what happened to Jordan Spieth?
This blog post is being written to look at possible causes why his golf game has fallen off. First off will eliminate injury or playing through injury as a possible cause Spieth is 100% healthy and plays an active schedule has had little to no injuries at age 25. In terms of playing in tournaments despite only playing in 24 events in 2018 Spieth is usually on a full time schedule to work out his issues so that is not a problem either. Will next take a look at mentally the most important thing for a golfer minus health of course. We’ve seen Spieth collapse mentally before and he shows a lot of passion when on the golf course if you just watch one round from him. Last year he got married had a weeding to plan and a lot of people close to Spieth cited off golf course distractions as a possible reason for his winless 2018. So far into 2019 unless there is a detail that no one knows about but those close to Spieth that cannot be the reason for his slump.
We will next look at his play. You can tell Spieth is not himself golf wise in all aspects of his game. For his putting after dominating in that department in the early part of his career Spieth dropped down to 41st in putting in 2018. Currently in 2019 he is 69th in strokes gain putting. Short putts has been his problem this year for Spieth as he ranks 186th currently in putts inside 5 feet missing 17 attempts including a 2 footer at the Masters. Spieth use to be money from 15 to 25 foot range and still produces from that rang. when you missing easy putts you relay on those putts to keep your round in flow but missing 3 footers is killer for confidence. Overall his putting stats the past two years have been down. Sometimes when the other parts of your game struggle your putter can save you. However when you are average at putting you need magic to grind out a round which is hard to produce consistently. I’ve watched Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger rip into his putting stroke every chance they get and when they are doing that you know something is off.
We move onto Spieth off the is where he is struggling most and the area where you might have to pinpoint his slump. This year in strokes gain off the tee Spieth ranks 203rd in 25 measured rounds. Spieth swing back during his elite play in 2015-2016 was different than what you see today. I watched a video on golf channel going over his swing then vs now there was a huge difference that is hard to catch during tournament play live . Brandel Chamblee noted how is swing is much shorter and has stripped him off his trigger move and athleticism along with not deep into right hip, right leg more bent and cannot rotate as deep into right hip. I’m no swing expert but film in slow motion does not lie. This all leads to bad tee shots into trouble leading to big numbers.
That brings me into my next point the big numbers it seems that Spieth just always gets a double bogey or worse during this slump. Today at the RBC Heritage Spieth had two double bogeys on his card alone. Every major since his last win on tour he has recorded at least one double bogey or worse. It is hard to win a major making mistakes like that and just really it kills rounds and confidence which you need when you are in slump.
That leads me into my next point which I have really defined Spieth play last two years since his last win inconsistency. One step forward two steps back is how I put it. One day he will show flashes of his 2015 play with a 66 and is within striking distance of the lead with all phases clicking. The next round he shots a 74 and struggles. Masters in 2018 he was the overnight leader after round 1 taking one step forward then took two steps back with two sloppy rounds before shooting a 64 to finish 3rd taking one step forward. However his play into the summer of 2018 he took two steps backs unable to put four rounds together in a tournament. Then defending his open Championship he finally was doing that with a 67 and 65 making a charge to the 54 hole lead. It seemed easy that Spieth would finish off to go back to back add major number four to his career. Only he struggled with his swing and putter in tough conditions and shot 76 and fell to a T9. That was the last time to this day Jordan Spieth has had a taste of the lead on the weekend. Last year Spieth had a lot of weekend woes despite those two fantastic rounds at majors knocking him out of contention.
In 2019 he has been a disappointment showing flashes once again and talking about fixing those mistakes in the offseason. However his play so far has not shown in and with a poor showing at his yard Augusta there is some concern when he will turn it around. It is really hard to say looking ahead the reason I pinpoint is being a hot and cold golfer with this much talent it is hard to recover if you make a mistake. You need to be a grinder and grind out rounds when you do not have your best stuff. In my assessment of golfers I do not qualify Spieth as a good grinder once he misses up it is hard for him to recover . His results show that with only 3 top 10s in two years and one top 5. When he is hot however he is hard to stop his 64 at the Masters show that. What he needs to do is turn that 64 into a 68 the next day to keep the momentum and good play going. To recap my final judgement it is not mental, confidence or physical issue that is holding Spieth back. It is his bad play, first of all one week it’s the driver the other week it’s the putting. I do not believe his wedges are a problem, matter of fact they are what gets him out of trouble. I believe inconsistency and focus that is keeping him from returning to form also. Missing short putts and making mistakes is lack of focus.
I call it a midcareer crisis where you get hot then just go cold middle of your career and everyone writes you off before making another push. Rory Mcllroy went through the same thing after his hot play before getting hot in 2019. I’m not writing Spieth off I predicted him to win 7-8 majors his career and one win will get him back on track. I cannot tell you when that win will be it may not come this year but he is still only 25. There is no need to worry if you are a Spieth fan he just needs to keep playing and figure it out take more than one step forward. First thing I would try to figure out is how to fix his swing go back to a form that would suit his game more keep the ball in the fairway and have his wedge game go to work. For now I can no longer consider him a top golfer in the world but that can change with consistent play of four rounds before going on a run.