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Spieth rounding into form for fickle week of Match Play

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As a lot golf as Jordan Spieth likes to play, it took as a lot self-discipline as he may muster to not play in any respect.

When he left the Masters on Nov. 15, the one two rounds of golf he performed had been of the leisure selection. One was a visit with buddies to Whispering Pines in southeast Texas, which was extra about having a couple of beers and swinging the membership. The different was his annual December journey to Augusta National with sponsors from AT&T.

“I didn’t play a serious round from Sunday of Augusta until the Wednesday before I left for San Diego,” Spieth stated, a span of 65 days earlier than he began out his 2021 marketing campaign at Torrey Pines.

He missed the lower and fell to No. 92 on the planet, his lowest place since he headed to the John Deere Classic at age 19 and gained for the primary time on the PGA Tour.

In that respect, Spieth is comfortable to be at his second dwelling — he spent three semesters on the University of Texas — for the Dell Technologies Match Play. All any of the 64 gamers at Austin Country Club want is a tee time, after which there isn’t any telling how probably the most fickle week in golf will pan out.

The plan endorsed by swing coach Cameron McCormick was to keep away from the golf Spieth likes to play and keep on with work on the vary as he tried to rediscover the blueprint that made him so profitable within the first place. Even leisure golf is reactionary, and there was no level in falling into dangerous habits till they had been damaged.

McCormick believes 80% of PGA Tour members like to play and 20% — Vijay Singh involves thoughts — favor to spend lengthy hours on the vary. Spieth was half of the bulk.

“But when you’re trying to revisit and re-engineer a former self, there’s some constructive work that needs to go on,” McCormick stated. “That constructive work required him to turn himself into a ‘practicer’ for a period of time and exercise some self-discipline that, ‘I need to stay away from the golf course.’ He was in golf course quarantine.

“It probably felt to him like a year.”

Missing the lower led to a weekend of very constructive work, and Spieth shortly turned the nook. He had a share of the 54-hole lead in Phoenix and a two-shot lead going into the final day at Pebble Beach. He has performed constantly higher each step of the best way and made the Match Play subject with room to spare.

He is the No. 49 seed this week, that means he got here out of the “D” group of golfers. That means he faces one of the highest 16 seeds — Matt Fitzpatrick, in his case — when this distinctive World Golf Championship begins Wednesday.

Spieth wasn’t within the final WGC a month in the past at Concession — he had by no means been ineligible for one since he turned a full PGA Tour member — and that additionally motivated him.

“That hit me pretty hard,” he stated. “Missing a World Golf Championship through not qualifying for it was the primary one, and I didn’t like that in any respect. … I’m glad to be right here with an opportunity.”

The format is 16 four-man groups playing each other over three days, with the winner of each group advancing to the knockout stage on the weekend.

Kevin Kisner is the defending champion from 2019 — the Match Play was the third event canceled last year after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months. Kisner was the No. 48 seed, and he became the first player to lose his opening match and go on to win since this group format began in 2015.

Kisner won’t have it any easier this week. His group includes Justin Thomas, Louis Oosthuizen and Matt Kuchar. Two are past champions (Kisner and Kuchar). Oosthuizen was a finalist in 2016, while Thomas reached the semifinals in 2018.

“I would have way more fun if all three of them just forfeited the match, to be honest,” Kisner said. “But no, it’s fun. If you want to be the best, you got to beat the best. And JT is playing arguably the best in the world right now.”

Thomas, the No. 2 seed, is coming off a victory in The Players Championship. Dustin Johnson is the No. 1 seed for the fourth straight time in the Match Play, though it has only led to victory once.

How fickle is this event? Jon Rahm lost in the title match to Johnson in 2017, and the next year Rahm didn’t win a match.

“The one thing — the true thing — is to get to the final, you need to play good,” Rahm said. “And at some point, you’re going to have to get lucky.”


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