NORTON, Mass. – Jordan Spieth didn’t like the way he was thinking.
He didn’t like the way he was talking to himself, either.
His ball striking? He was OK with that. But everything else? It added up to another missed cut Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
After a 2-over-par 73, Spieth went home early for the second week in a row. That’s back-to-back missed cuts to start these FedEx Cup playoffs, jarring setbacks considering he’s just a few short weeks removed from his marvelous major championship season. This marks the first time he has missed two cuts in a row since he turned pro three years ago.
“This is something in my career I've never done,” Spieth said. “I've done a lot of things I've never done positively, this year. This is something I've never done that's negative.”
Rounds of 75-73 left him at 6 over, three shots above the cutline. He missed the cut at The Barclays last week with rounds of 74-73.
“It’s almost like a bad dream,” Spieth said.
The 22-year-old Texan won the Masters and U.S. Open with an unshakeable resolve and a red-hot putter. He was in the hunt to win the British Open until a birdie chance at the last hole veered away. He was also in the hunt late on Sunday at the PGA Championship.
All of sudden, Spieth is mentally out of sorts and his putter has gone cold.
“Normally, my mental game is my strength,” Spieth said. “And it's something I feel like I have an advantage over other players. These past two weeks, it was a weakness for me. And I've just got to go back and reassess how to remain positive.”
Spieth is one of the most animated players in the game, and you could see how frustrated he was this week in his body language, more than he typically lets on. Whether it was thumping his golf bag with a wedge early in Friday’s round, or swiping the air with a club after a bad shot, or twisting his face in frustration, Spieth couldn’t hide his aggravation.
“I had really bad self-talk this week, something I haven't experienced in quite a while,” Spieth said. “Maybe heightened by just everything that's happened this year, and just being so used to being in contention, that not only was I out of it, but I was also outside the cut line. And maybe it just heightened my self-talk. I need to walk with some cockiness in my step these next two tournaments.”
Spieth, who has quickly established himself as one of the best putters in the game, struggled on the greens at TPC Boston. He took 33 putts in the first round and 33 again in the second round.
“I'm hitting the ball as well as I was in the PGA, as well as I was at the Open,” Spieth said. “I have control of the golf ball just fine. For whatever reason, I'm not scoring. Today was my putter. Yesterday was my irons, my distance control from the fairways. Just not everything is exact and fine-tuned like it has been this whole year.”
Spieth switched to a new set of irons at The Barclays last week and back to his old set this week. He wasn’t blaming his equipment.
In his pre-tournament news conference, Spieth talked about how he and his caddie, Michael Greller, have learned to regroup when he’s frustrated, to control his "fuse.” Spieth said after Saturday’s round that he has worked through mental challenges like this before.
“This one is lasting a little longer than normal,” he said. “Sometimes it happens over the course of five holes, sometimes it happens over nine holes. And the good news is that it can flip the other way very quickly. And that's what I'm taking out of this.”
With a break next week in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Spieth plans to take a mental and physical break.
“It's probably going to be good for me to take at least four days and not touch a club,” Spieth said.
After a week off, the playoffs resume with the BMW Championship at Conway Farms outside Chicago.
“I don't feel it's far off, even though my score is far off,” Spieth said. “I don't think I have to fix much in my game other than really work hard on my putting [going] into Conway and then mentally I can control that. I can control walking with the cockiness, whether things are going good or bad, and that's what you have to have inside the ropes. And I'll bring it when we get to Chicago.”