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It's time: Jordan Spieth is going to win at Pebble Beach this weekend

February 12, 2021

Steph Chambers

PEBBLE BEACH — We've seen enough. Clear your Sunday afternoon plans—to hell with Valentine's Day—because it's going to happen this week. Jordan Spieth is going to win a golf tournament again, and social media will explode, and we will all rejoice together in the return of golf’s Golden Boy.

I see your “we’re only halfway there” and I reject it, with contempt. Take your caution and throw it in Stillwater Cove. The Interwebs are not the place for reasoned discourse; this is the land of bold declarations. Yesterday, we were cautiously optimistic. Today, we're ready to go full-out: Jordan Spieth is back.

Yes, we know he’s been in this position a few times since his last win at the 2017 Open Championship. Of course, we know anything can happen in golf. It’s especially true at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where eight holes are fully exposed to the wrath of the Pacific. This piece could look really, really bad in 48 hours. Plus, the forecast for the weekend is less than ideal, so you’re excused for thinking a less volatile player will get the W.

You’re excused, but you’re wrong. Did you see the way Spieth carved up Spyglass Hill on Friday for a breezy 67? Or yesterday’s 65 at Pebble? Have you seen the leader board? The one with “Jordan Spieth, -12” alone at the top?

Never mind that he’s got the three highest-ranked players in the field on his heels, all within three shots and inside the top five. With all due respect to Paul Casey, Patrick Cantlay and Daniel Berger—all fantastic players in good form, albeit with zero majors combined compared to Spieth's three—no one’s getting in the way of the Spieth train this week.

“I’m in a great position after the midway point,” Spieth said. The best position.

Jordan Spieth was never not going to win again. He’s 27 years old, and as he said earlier this week, plenty of guys don’t start winning until they’re 27 and go on to have fantastic careers. This slump has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, but it also hasn’t been nearly as bad as some we’ve seen. It’s not like he’s missing the cut every week—the man has 17 top-10s since his last victory and has made the FedEx Cup playoffs each year. Ask anyone on the PGA Tour, and no one is concerned that Spieth will fade into driving-range-pro oblivion.

Some believed the return to glory would happen last week in Phoenix, when he shared a 54-hole lead for the first time in nearly three years. But upon closer inspection, it was clear he wasn’t quite there ball-striking wise. He did the majority of his damage with a hectic 61 on Saturday, the product of a chip-in and a whole mess of long putts. Not quite fluky, but not repeatable, either.

This week’s been different. Spieth is comfortable here, having won at Pebble in 2017, and he’s carrying himself like a man who expects to win. He’s also been hitting his irons at an elite level since the first round of Phoenix and has missed just eight greens through two rounds here. He hit 15 of 18 on Thursday at Pebble Beach, which boasts the smallest greens on the PGA Tour. He holed zero bombs on Thursday and only one on Friday, a 40-plus footer for birdie on 5, but he’s also three-putted from six feet and missed a straightforward eight-footer for birdie on his last hole Friday. He has just two bogeys through 36 holes. There is nothing fluky going on here. He’s playing offense out there, rather than worrying about the misses.

“I feel a bit improved off of last week, which was the goal this week‑-to feel like I’m getting better each day. Yeah, I haven’t made a ton of longer putts in order to be in the lead like normal, which is probably a really good sign, that I’m keeping the ball in front of me and striking it really nicely. A couple mistakes here or there, other than that it was really clean.”

It may be hard to believe given his pedigree, but Spieth felt the nerves last weekend in the desert. He wasn’t quite nervous, but he felt the nerves. (Yes, there is a difference). It was his first time in legitimate contention—a chance to win, not a chance to finish top five—and, well, it’s not quite like riding a bike. When you haven’t won in nearly four years, you need to learn to win again. Phoenix was huge for him in that regard. Plus, with no amateurs nor fans on site this week, Spieth will have zero distractions as he marches toward victory.

“Sunday was really good for me to just kind of be able to learn a little bit from the tendencies, especially as I go into the next two days. I’m just trying to kind of get more comfortable being towards the top of the leaderboard and kind of feeling those nerves.

“You start to get more comfortable the more often you’re there, and these two days playing with or around the lead for at least the back nine yesterday through most of the round today, I felt a lot more comfortable than I did last week, which is a good sign.”

Are you sold yet?