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  • Alistair Tait

Spieth lost in Masters subplots

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

So many Masters subplots this year. Will Bryson bomb his way to victory? Can Tiger defend? Can Rory join the grand slam club? How about a Brooks win? DJ? How will an Autumn Augusta National play compared to how it traditionally plays in the Spring? Yet there’s one subplot missing?

Step forward Jordan Spieth.

Hard to imagine we’d be at this juncture just a few years ago with Spieth not one of the main story lines in a major, especially the Masters. He was a key story going into every major. Yet, as we head into the 84th Masters, Spieth seems to have gone missing in action.

Can it really be true that Spieth has not won since the 2017 Open Championship? Yes.

The Texan has fallen to 80th on the Official World Golf Ranking, his worst spot since July 2013 when he was 120th. This from a man who has held the number one spot for a total of 26 weeks, and for 20 straight between 2015 and 2016.

He’s a 60/1 shot to win this Masters with Ladbrokes. Those odds would have been unthinkable a few seasons ago. No wonder. Second in the 2014 Masters before donning the green jacket a year later, and adding a U.S. Open trophy that year too. Second in the 2016 and 2018 Masters. Then that 2017 Open Championship win at Royal Birkdale which seemed to herald an age when Spieth would contend in majors on a consistent basis for many years to come. His best finish in the tournaments that really matter since Birkdale are that third at Augusta in 2018 and third in last year’s PGA Championship. Both flatter him slightly.

He wasn’t really in contention at Augusta two years ago. He began the final round too far back and shot 64. Ditto in the 2019 PGA when Koepka dominated.

I walked the second round with Spieth during last year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush. He shot 67 and a created a wee buzz, especially among my American counterparts. I wasn’t really fooled. Here’s what I wrote for Golfweek:

“Jordan Spieth is in contention to win his second Open Championship despite playing army golf around Royal Portrush.
“Spieth’s right, left, right approach added up to a second-round 4-under 67 to move him to 5-under after 36 holes. He was just three shots off the lead when he walked off the 18th hole.
“The 2017 champion might be leading on his own if he’d managed to hit more than just five fairways."

With obvious understatement, Spieth said:

“I found the rough more than I did yesterday. At some point, I hope to be playing off the short grass this week.”

He scored 69 the next day but didn’t find much short grass on Sunday and closed with a 77 to finish T20.

Seems things haven’t changed since Portrush. As Jamie Corrigan noted in The Telegraph last week about Spieth’s opening round in Houston:

“If Jordan Spieth is to resurrect his form in time to launch a challenge for next week’s Masters then he has an awfully long way to go in a short amount of time. In six calamitous holes at the Houston Open, the former world No 1 went from a share of the lead to a tie for 90th.”

No surprise that Spieth missed his fourth cut in his last six starts heading to Augusta. He's been missing a lot of cuts lately. He doesn’t have a chance this week, does he?

And yet he doesn’t have to worry about finding the short grass at Augusta. And with that putting stroke that saves him repeatedly, on greens he knows well..... He couldn’t, could he?

#JustSaying: “There isn’t a hole out there that can’t be birdied if you just think. But there isn’t one that can’t be double-bogeyed if you stop thinking.” Bobby Jones on Augusta National

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