PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jordan Spieth received some light applause after rolling in a 14-foot birdie on the 18th hole Saturday morning, but in the end it proved to be too little, too late.
Spieth returned to TPC Sawgrass to complete the final four holes of his second round at The Players Championship, and after scores of 72-71 he missed the cut by a shot. It marks the second straight year that Spieth has made an early exit from the Tour’s flagship event.
According to Spieth, while the larger goal is still to improve his consistency, the cause of this week’s disappointing result was clear.
“I just didn’t put much work into my putting and short game and it certainly showed here, as it normally does on a Pete Dye golf course,” Spieth said. “If I putt anywhere up to the standard that I normally putt, even with a couple bad breaks here and there I’m at 6 or 7 under just on the greens, let alone the short game.”
Spieth needed to play his final four holes in 1 under to make the cut, but he faced a difficult approach to No. 15 after hitting a wayward drive just before sunset. His approach clipped a tree, leading to bogey, and when he failed to birdie Nos. 16 or 17, his fate was essentially sealed.
Spieth was making his first start since his much-discussed collapse at the Masters – a result that he again insisted did not have an impact on his performance this week on the Stadium Course.
“I don’t think there’s much of a connection. I just didn’t putt well,” he said. “If I putted like I putted at the Masters, I would be at 10 or 12 under right now.”
What did have an impact, though, was playing alongside world No. 1 Jason Day while he broke the tournament’s 36-hole scoring record en route to building a four-shot lead.
“It’s tough when you’re getting shellacked by 15 shots in the same group, you know? When someone’s birdieing almost every single hole, every other hole, you start to wonder why in the world you aren’t making any of them,” he said. “A lot of times it’s good to play with, if you can feed off it. But for me it was tough this week, without my putting being on, it just led to a lack of patience for me seeing every hole being birdied and not being able to do much about it.”
Spieth won’t have much time to lick his wounds, as this marks the first in a run of four straight events that will continue next week at the AT&T Byron Nelson. In addition to “grinding” over his short game in the coming days, he hopes to embrace a more positive attitude after several moments of visible on-course frustration this week.
“Just need to be a little bit more positive with myself on the course and maybe kind of lower expectations a little bit and just kind of free myself up,” he said. “It just seems I’m so tense, and I just need to get back to the way I enjoy playing golf, and I’m not far off.”