Missed cut, missed cut, missed cut. Tie for 41st, missed cut. Tie for 48th, missed cut again.
That’s the story of Jordan Spieth’s last seven trips to The Players Championship, and nobody knows it quite like Jordan Spieth.
“I don’t have a great track record here at this event,” he acknowledged Tuesday. “It doesn’t take much research to figure that out.”
Yet this time when he steps onto the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, he’ll be confident. Really.
The three-time major champion shows signs of returning to his peak form entering Thursday’s opening round at the Players Championship.
“Since Phoenix, I feel really confident,” the 29-year-old said. “Been pushing what I’ve been working on and pushing the same thing, and my ball striking and driving has been really nice.”
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Spieth might be due for a turnaround. At 71st in the FedEx Cup standings, just a sliver outside the top 70 needed to qualify for the FedEx St. Jude Championship, he needs one.
Since winning his third major, the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale, Spieth has only topped the leaderboard at the 2021 Valero Texas Open and the 2022 RBC Heritage. This season, he has struggled to keep the ball in the fairway (174th on the Tour this season in driving accuracy) and on the greens (122nd in putting).
Jordan Spieth plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course. (Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Historically, Ponte Vedra has not been a favorable destination for the Dallas native, and he knows it.
Since a fourth place in his Players debut in 2014, Spieth has endured a near-decade of frustration at the Stadium Course: five missed cuts and two final-round slumps of 74 (2018) and 75 (2021), both of which sent him spiraling outside the top 40.
“Visually, I’ve had a hard time on this golf course because I like to see a lot of feel shots, and out here there’s not a lot of stuff to work it off of,” Spieth said. “It seems like if a ball is moving away from a hole, it’s just going to move further away from a hole. I have a hard time visually with that, versus, say, Kapalua or Augusta.”
Still, things are looking up for Spieth, currently 15th in the World Golf Ranking. He placed sixth at the Phoenix Open and fourth last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, tying for fourth at 7 under behind Kurt Kitayama at Bay Hill. Those are sandwiched around a missed cut at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera.
Maybe, Spieth hopes, 2023 will look a little more like 2014. Maybe, this week marks the end of the First Coast flops.
“I feel like when striking it well, having some momentum and feeling like a little bit of freedom as far as being able to play aggressively here, that’s going to kind of be my strategy this week to try and take advantage,” he said. “I mean, be patient, but when you get a couple opportunities, make sure you go ahead and fire away.”
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek