Can Jordan Spieth shake off frustrations and win again at John Deere Classic?

Jordan Spieth arrives at the John Deere Classic as one of the betting favorites, according to DraftKings. But the three-time major winner has hardly played like a tournament favorite throughout the 2024 season.

He has had a frustrating campaign, especially after missing the cut at Augusta National. Since then, Spieth has made eight starts. He missed the cut twice and did not post a finish better than T-29. That somewhat respectable result came at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he shot only one round in the 60s: an opening round 2-under 69.

But these last few months have served as a microcosm of Spieth’s career over the past seven years—a stretch filled with disappointment and agony, considering his stature and accomplishments. He has won only two tournaments since his Open Championship triumph at Royal Birkdale in 2017: the 2021 Valero Texas Open and the 2022 RBC Heritage.

Since then, he has had a few calls, finishing runner-up to K.H. Lee at the 2022 AT&T Byron Nelson and losing to Matt Fitzpatrick in a playoff at the 2023 RBC Heritage. He has 13 top 10s dating back to April 2022 but has missed 11 cuts since that juncture, too.

And yet, despite those ups and downs, Spieth, now 30 years old, has a tremendous perspective on where he is at this point in his career.

“Once I know what I’m capable of, I want to obviously stay there. If you fall from that even a little bit, it frustrates you, and then if you fall quite a bit from that, you can be wondering what in the world is going on,” Spieth said ahead of this year’s Charles Schwab Challenge in mid-May.

Jordan Spieth, PGA Tour, Charles Schwab Challenge

Jordan Spieth during a practice round ahead of the 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge.
Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

“It can overtake you, and it did for me for a little while. I think I have a better perspective now, but at the same time, the drive to get to where I know my ceiling has never been higher. So, every day I’m not there, I still walk away feeling like I progressed towards it; I walk away really pleased with my day. But some days, I feel like I didn’t, and instead of being okay with that, I lose a little patience because I know what I am capable of, and not sustaining that every year is something that I’m not okay with personally.

“I think it’s something I wouldn’t change anything that’s ever happened to me. I’ve accomplished pretty much all the goals that I had in golf, albeit, you know, in a short period of time, but the nature of sustaining that is something that I would like to have another opportunity at, and I’ll continue to work towards.”

Spieth went on to tie for 37th that week at Colonial, the course not far from his hometown of Dallas, Texas. He then missed the cut at the Memorial, tied for 41st at the U.S. Open, and most recently struggled at the Travelers Championship, finishing T-63—almost dead last.

But now, after a week off, Spieth arrives in the Quad Cities hoping to establish some momentum before the season’s final major. He has won the John Deere Classic twice, in 2013 and 2015, but nothing says he cannot make it a third time this year—especially since the best player in the field, Patrick Cantlay, withdrew.

Jordan Spieth, PGA Tour, John Deere Classic

Jordan Spieth won the 2013 John Deere Classic in a five-hole playoff. He was only 19 years old then.
Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images

And yet, the question is, how?

For starters, Spieth has to gain some confidence in his short game again, an attribute that has been very un-Spieth-like this season. He ranks 78th on tour in strokes gained around the green and 80th in putting—a surprising figure given how good he was with his flat stick when he was at the height of his powers.

Spieth also has to improve his ball striking. He is 110th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: approaching the green, 70th in greens in regulation percentage, and 86th in proximity to the hole. He has especially struggled with his wedges, ranking 130th in approaches from inside 100 yards, another jarring statistic that is very un-Spieth-like.

So this week, at TPC Deere Run, a course that yields plenty of birdies, Spieth should play to the middle of the greens and look to avoid the big numbers. He already makes tons of par breakers, making more than four per round, but the problem is that Spieth drops too many shots. He makes bogey nearly 17% of the time this season, ranking 139th on tour in bogey avoidance—a reality that will not win you many golf tournaments.

Thus, Spieth must play conservatively and not press too much on a golf course that gives the player a green light in more ways than one. And if he can do that, Spieth will have a good chance of doing a victory lap in one of those famous green John Deere tractors on Sunday night.

That would undoubtedly shake off his frustrations.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top