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Spieth in good place at PGA as he takes long view of career

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Jordan Spieth has a a lot clearer outlook now than he did the final time the PGA Championship was at Kiawah Island.

For starters, he wasn’t even at Kiawah in 2012.

Spieth was in Denver that week making ready for the U.S. Amateur whereas making an attempt to resolve whether or not to show professional or return to Texas for his sophomore 12 months of school. With an unclear future weighing on him, he needed to face NCAA champion Thomas Pieters in the opening spherical at Cherry Hills and misplaced on the 18th gap.

Spieth headed again to highschool.

“I wasn’t in a good place back then,” he stated with fun Tuesday as he headed out for his first look at the windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Now it is totally different, for a spread of causes.

Spieth has emerged from three darkish years of not successful, hardly ever even contending and a slide to this point down the world rating that he practically fell out of the highest 100. He usually says he’ll all the time guess on himself — a reference to self-belief, not playing — and there was a time the percentages have been getting fairly long.

He comes into the PGA Championship making an attempt to develop into solely the sixth participant to finish the career Grand Slam, and this opportunity is as good as any since he captured the third leg in the 2017 British Open.

Spieth has completed in the highest 10 in seven of his final 9 tournaments, together with the final 4, one of these a victory in the Texas Open for his first trophy since Royal Birkdale. He’s not all the best way again — what golfer ever feels that approach? — however is among the many main favorites going into the second main of the 12 months.

And he believes the tough occasions have made him higher.

“I’ve proven to be very human. It’s kind of fun,” Spieth stated. “When I’ve been on in the past, I’ve won tournaments by eight out here, and that’s obviously the goal. But the ability to shun off a bad shot and come back the next hole and make a long putt or something like that — just the grind — is enjoyable when you’re on the positive momentum side of it.”

Spieth is not positive when he turned the nook. He factors to a two-week stretch at Phoenix and Pebble Beach the place he had probabilities to win on Sunday as proof he was heading in the right direction.

Will Zalatoris provided one other instance.

He grew up enjoying beginner golf with Spieth in Dallas — they are going to be enjoying collectively the opening two rounds at Kiawah — they usually nonetheless play at house. One match just a few months in the past at Dallas National stands out.

Spieth missed the inexperienced left of a cart path on a par 3. His accomplice additionally missed the inexperienced. Zalatoris was sure they’d the outlet received.

“Jordan hits this chip shot that skips through the rough, goes up, checks on the hill and then basically goes Mach3 and just slams into the back of the hole and goes in,” Zalatoris stated. “Then he follows it up with a 30- or 40-footer on the next hole. This is just Jordan.

“I’d seen it for the few months leading up to that, but that was when I knew, ‘OK, he’s back.’”

Nine years seems like a lifetime ago for the 27-year-old Spieth. He lasted only one more semester at Texas and turned pro with no status. It took him only nine months to earn temporary membership on sponsor exemptions, win on the PGA Tour, finish No. 7 in the FedEx Cup and play in the Presidents Cup.

And it only got better. The Masters and the U.S. Open in 2015, capped off by a FedEx Cup title. No. 1 in the world. The third leg of the Grand Slam at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth prefers the long term — forward and backward.

He doesn’t read about himself, though he has a sense of what people are saying and writing based on the questions he get asks. He mentioned something Tiger Woods said years ago — the media and the public tend to exaggerate the bad times and the good times alike.

“I’ve had some pretty high ups and some pretty low lows for my age, but it’s just part of the learning curve,” he stated. “You’ve just got to laugh it off and stick to your game plan and believe in yourself, bet on yourself. I’ve always done that, and I feel like that’s paid off pretty well to this point.

“And if my eight years are like my last eight years, I’d certainly sign up for that.”

Especially if those next eight years include a Wanamaker Trophy to round out his collection. None of the other five players with the career Grand Slam — Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen — got the final piece at the PGA Championship.

It won’t be easy this week, if Tuesday was any indication, with another dose of wind strong enough to make the Ocean Course feel longer than its 7,838 yards.

The course won’t play to that length. The PGA of America will move around tees depending on the wind. Before he set out for his first practice round, Spieth heard plenty of tales from players wearing out 3-iron and 4-iron into some of the par 4s.

“If the wind blows this way for the rest of the week, it’s going to be a battle to just get in the clubhouse,” Adam Scott said.


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