LA JOLLA, Calif. — Jordan Spieth, at 26, is far too young to have arrived at a career crossroads, notwithstanding signposts that might have suggested he was headed in that direction.
Fairways and greens became so elusive that even his vaunted short game was incapable of mitigating his misfires. The worst season of his career followed his second worst season, reflected in his plummeting World Ranking. He is now 46th, his worst position in more than 6½ years, since midway through his rookie season in 2013 when he was in the midst a steady climb. Note, too, that he hasn’t won since the British Open in 2017.
So it was time for a reset, and, by chance more than choice—he was going to begin 2020 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but withdrew with illness—he has returned to where it all began, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He made his professional debut here, in 2013, and though he missed the cut, he went on to post the first of 11 tour wins, earning nearly $4 million in the process.
“I kind of feel blank-slated here,” he said on Tuesday, reflecting how he felt at the outset of 2013, after leaving the University of Texas midway through his sophomore year to pursue professional golf.
“Hopefully ready to bounce back to where I’ve been in the past. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away, but kind of build to that. I feel like I got out of the offseason tournaments, the fall tournaments, what I wanted to an extent. It was a little trial and error. So big picture I have a really good frame of mind, which should allow me to build some patience into getting my game where I want it to be.”
Spieth resorted to technology with which he was familiar to discover where his swing, notably with his driver, had strayed from the route that had taken him to No. 1 in the world for an extended stay.
He was alerted to “red flags,” he said, “and then adjust accordingly. The idea is to try and do it obviously when things are going really well. That’s probably the most important time to go do something, so you can get back on track.
“All in all, I’m just trying to get my timing down a little bit better. It’s nothing crazy, nothing wild, no big changes or anything. It’s just simply finding ways to go back in time to where I’m swinging my swing instead of trying to do anything special.”
Taking it from 3D modeling to tournament rounds on the PGA Tour is the challenge, of course. However it plays out, his attitude is that it’s a start. “It’s when I kind of start to garner that control on the range and kind of transfer to rounds I play at home and transfer it to rounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and then you take it into tournament play.
“First PGA Tour event in three months, so I’m just kind of anxious to get going, and I’m not putting huge expectations on the start. Just more so stay with kid of the trend, the practice, the feels that I’ve been doing, not audible out of them for what’s comfortable, but instead power through.”