AUSTIN, Texas — Jordan Spieth was cruising down I-35 on Sunday morning, a bit sleepier than traditional after staying up late the night time earlier than watching some March Madness motion.
It was a bit of an excessive amount of insanity for his style since his beloved Texas Longhorns had fallen by a single level.
“Yeah,” he stated, “I was hoping to go to bed with six or seven minutes left and Texas up 15 points. It was hard to watch. That was really tough, especially with Andrew Jones being so clutch there late. That would have been the perfect ending.”
Until Abilene Christian’s Joe Pleasant hit a few equally clutch free throws to eradicate the third-seeded Longhorns 53-52 from the NCAA Tournament. Spieth’s thoughts is rarely too far-off from all issues Texan.
Spieth took final week off from the PGA Tour to unwind, have a few beers with mates, seize just a few tacos or different Tex-Mex meals and get in a observe or two.
With the Masters looming, he’s particularly vigilant about COVID-19. Normally he’d have taken in a Dallas Mavericks or Stars recreation throughout his brief break, however each his mother and father and sister contracted the virus final summer time and his brother, Steven, who lives in Austin and sells actual property at a Driftwood golf course, is sort of the one contact Spieth has had with somebody who hasn’t both had COVID-19 or been vaccinated. “Almost like herd immunity within our bubble at home,” he stated.
Jordan Spieth hasn’t gained a event in 4 years however has a historical past of success on the Dell Match Play occasion. He’s 7-2-1 all-time at that event.
While Spieth appreciated the day off, his ideas by no means stray too lengthy from golf.
“I do a pretty good job of shutting my mind off to golf,” he stated, “but it’s amazing how when you go three, four weeks on the road, how much you’re kind of still cooking, like when you take steak off the grill, it’s still cooking.”
Make no mistake. Spieth has been cooking of late regardless of a prolonged victory drought that has stretched to virtually 4 years. He won’t be as scorching as, say, a Bryson DeChambeau or Justin Thomas, however he’s been on a reasonably good heater himself.
Relaxed, reinvigorated and refocused after three top-five finishes in his final 4 begins, Spieth returns dwelling this week to compete within the World Golf Championship-Dell Match Play. Well, his second dwelling. The Dallas native jokes that he can truly get to Florida by jet to play within the Arnold Palmer Invitational sooner than he can drive the three-plus hours to Austin.
“I love Austin,” he stated. “I do think of it as a second home. And I’m excited for some Austin barbeque.”
As a lot as he’d prefer to win this week on a course the place he continuously practiced as a Longhorn — similar as different Dell entrants and former Texas standouts Scottie Scheffler and Dylan Frittelli — that doesn’t imply the three-time main champion feels any extra stress enjoying the Dell than he does every other event. He opens play Wednesday towards Matt Fitzpatrick (fifteenth seed) in Group 15 together with Matthew Wolff (twentieth) and Corey Conners (thirty seventh). “I got a tough pod with two of the hottest players in the game and another one who is the highest-ranked (within the group),” Spieth stated. “So it’s a tall task.”
In 4 tries on the Dell, he’s performed significantly better than his outcomes present. Despite an total spectacular 7-2-1 report, he’s emerged out of the pool stage simply as soon as, that coming in 2016, the Dell’s first 12 months in Austin.
That 12 months, he went unbeaten in his three group matches however was eradicated within the Round of 16 by eventual finalist Louis Oosthuizen. He survived group play that included Thomas, his Alabama buddy who’s contemporary off a title at The Players Championship.
Spieth stated he’s completely satisfied for his shut pal, towards whom he’s competed since they have been 13-year-olds on the junior tour, Spieth’s Longhorns having overwhelmed Thomas’ Crimson Tide for an NCAA title, too. But then he added, “It lights a little fire under my ass. Same on number of wins. I want to continue down that path going forward. As cool as it is, we’re also super competitive with each other, too.”
Thomas acknowledges as a lot, however they nonetheless root for one another. Up to a degree. While Spieth has three majors to Thomas’ one, the latter gained the PGA Championship, the one which has eluded the Longhorn. With 14, Thomas does have three extra PGA Tour wins than Spieth.
“I’m very excited that he’s found his form again,” Thomas stated. “He would still probably argue that he hasn’t. No golfer is everywhere they want to be. But he has his swagger back.”
Spieth gained’t utterly have it again till he’s within the winner’s circle, however he’s getting extra snug and has put himself in place to win.
He did admit he “struggled” when he performed in his hometown Byron Nelson event as a result of “I wanted to win so bad,” however doesn’t really feel any of that additional burden at Austin Country Club simply 15 miles from the UT campus.
Don’t get it mistaken. He nonetheless needs to win unhealthy, however he needs to win wherever. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Dell event or the Masters in three weeks. And he’s near breaking by, having three spectacular tournaments at Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Bay Hill and twice sharing 54-hole leads. Lackluster ultimate rounds of 72 at Phoenix and 70 at Pebble Beach value him.
He hasn’t held a championship trophy aloft since he captured The Open at Royal Birkdale in the summertime of 2017, and he just lately revealed to the Golf Channel that he had a bone chip in his left hand that drastically weakened his grip in 2018 and had a lot to do together with his low driving and accuracy numbers.
“I didn’t (have surgery), but I probably should have,” Spieth stated Monday. “I’m 27 and have a long road ahead of me. I have a lot of good to draw on and a few regrets. I don’t feel (the injury) now.”
He admits he was in a little bit of denial about how a lot that impacted his swing. But his recreation is again in kind now as one in all golf’s premier ball-strikers who has already gained three-fourths of the profession Grand Slam, missing solely that PGA Championship the place he was the runner-up in 2015. And he doesn’t see his lack of current victories as a profound psychological hurdle.
“I don’t think so,” Spieth stated. “It’s not like maybe Phil (Mickelson’s) pressure on having never won a major and then he continues to win in his 30s in these majors. I’m getting a little closer to what I want my swing to feel like. Mechanically, I’ve gotten a little bit more sound each week. There’s a little more trust.
“I’ve gone from definitely almost being lost with a chance to win at San Diego and Phoenix. My expectations are such where I’m not the guy where I’ve been in the past, but I’m not far off.”
If something, Spieth thinks he’s near the caliber of play when he was the most effective participant on the earth for 26 weeks.
After he missed the minimize on the Farmers Insurance Open, he fell to an uncharacteristically low 92nd on the earth. But since then, he flirted with profitable each the Phoenix Open and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, ending in ties for fourth and third.
He did not crack the highest 40 at The Players Championship the place he traditionally has not fared effectively, tying for forty eighth. But he thinks he performed decently regardless of not placing effectively, simply “ran out of steam.” He’s since risen to No. 52 on the earth and must be a contender each time he tees it up.
“My confidence is trending and growing,” Spieth stated. “It’s kind of nice to see the difference in progression over the course of a month. I have more tools in the toolbox than before. I still feel I haven’t played with my A-game, and I know what that feels like. I just struggle with wanting that immediately rather than being patient and letting it run its course.”
Patience has by no means been Spieth’s sturdy go well with. Winning has.
Kirk Bohls is a longtime columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, a part of the USA Today Network. Follow him at @kbohls.