Jordan Spieth (and his putter) reheats, Sergio goes low and JT's post-Players struggles continue
Much like a microwave, Jordan Spieth (and his putter) knows how to reheat and reheat quickly.
Of course, that wasn’t quite the case during his prolonged slump. There was no heating or reheating during that Ice Age, but coming off a woeful putting week at Kiawah, Spieth quickly bounced back at Colonial. It’s the latest proof that the dude is very much back.
After bricking everything in sight at the PGA, Spieth made everything he saw on Thursday at the Charles Schwab Challenge. His seven-under 63 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth included birdie putts of 12, 13 and 19 feet, plus a few shorties, which he earned thanks to some stellar tee-to-green play at arguably his favorite course on tour.
“It’s hard to go any lower,” said Spieth, who finished the day ranked second in strokes gained/putting. “Made some putts, got started on the first hole today, that one goes in, and that’s what I talked about before the tournament. If I could get a couple to go in early in the first round … and the confidence and the work I’ve been doing on my stroke the last few days, which is a somewhat significant change in a stroke feel, I thought that would exude just a little bit of confidence into the rest of the round on greens where I’ve been very successful before.”
In his pre-tournament press conference, Spieth mentioned how well he knows the greens at Colonial, as evidenced by a record that includes a win, two runner-ups, three top-10s and no missed cuts at the longtime PGA Tour stop. The fact that it’s essentially a home game sure helps, too.
“This golf course, it’s normally a very educated fan base here in Fort Worth,” he said. “It’s a very golf loving fan base. The 13th [hole] can be a bit of a party scene and obviously people are having fun, but it’s a very educated crowd every year here, and to have them back and to have that hometown support obviously is fantastic for me.
“I imagine it’ll be pretty crowded and pretty loud tomorrow afternoon.”
Friday of Memorial Day weekend, Spieth’s putter cooking, drinks flowing. Yeah, tomorrow should be fun.
Sergio Garcia hopes to buck recent trend
If you looked at the results of late, Sergio Garcia’s record would read: MC-MC-MC-MC. Not great, Bob.
A semi-closer look, however, would show you that Garcia has actually shot rounds of 68 and 65 during that stretch, and both of those scores came in the opening rounds of tournaments (RBC Heritage, AT&T Byron Nelson). Both times, though, he completely ejected on Friday, going from contention to not even making the weekend.
Garcia, who won at Colonial 20 years ago for his maiden PGA Tour title at age 21, will look to buck that trend following a first-round 63 Thursday, which has him in a tie at the top with Spieth. Already with a win this season, the Spaniard also had a pair of top-10s in the Players and the WGC-Dell Match Play before this recent poor stretch of form, so he must still be close. Thursday’s stats would indicate he’s extremely close, as he ranks top three in the field in strokes gained/tee-to-green, off-the-tee and around-the-green, as well as eighth in SG/putting.
“I’m excited about what’s happening in my game,” Garcia said. “I’m excited about where I am. I’m excited about who I’m with, sponsors-wise and equipment-wise [he just resigned with TaylorMade]. I’m excited about having a family and a couple of kids and different worries that you have from where you were at 21. But they’re all amazing, and we’re enjoying them and learning as much as we can as we go.”
Hmm, sounds like a certain winner of the PGA Championship who kept telling us he was close too.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH JUSTIN THOMAS?!?!
Hopefully, you detected the sarcasm in that one. The World No. 2 will be just fine, and this little post-Players “slump,” if you can call it that, has still included a T-21 at Augusta and a T-13 at Innisbrook, the latter of which included a -6.5 SG/putting performance. The flat stick continues to give him fits week in, week out, which is brutal to watch given how good he’s been tee-to-green this year. But on Thursday he actually putted OK. He was horrendous off the tee, on approach and around the greens, which was both surprising and concerning. If he’s going to couple poor putting with poor tee-to-green play now, maybe he is in a little slump. He’ll likely be fine, but it’s officially a situation worth monitoring (incoming 62 in soggy conditions on Friday).
Brandt Snedeker is officially on “back?” watch
At a certain point, only so many guys can be “back!,” and there’s been plenty in 2021. It doesn’t help that we say everyone is in a slump after two or three bad weeks (guilty), and then declare them back after one good week. That’s just professional golf, for you.
But Sneds, a former No. 4 player in the world, is definitely a sneaky “back?” candidate. Injuries and poor form caused him to drop to 143rd in the OWGR recently, his lowest standing since summer 2007. That was unheard of for this former Mr. Consistency, who was a Ryder Cupper in 2016. He’s very quietly trying to round back into form as of late, with a T-6 at Valero, T-11 at Valspar and a T-17 at Byron Nelson. He played well again Thursday, too, shooting a four-under 66, which has him lurking at T-5. We won’t be saying “BACK!” yet, but he has our full attention.