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Punch Shot: What should Spieth do?

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Jordan Spieth is halfway home to the single-season Grand Slam. He is also slated to play the John Deere Classic ahead of the Open Championship. Should he keep to his plan? Should he get in some prep work at St. Andrews? Should he skip the Deere in favor of the Scottish Open? Our writers weigh in:


Blame it on Mike Davis and Robert Trent Jones Jr.

After the USGA’s executive director and the outspoken architect made it clear that Chambers Bay was a test that would need an increased level of preparation, major championships have suddenly become fortnight gatherings, with players needing the extra time to learn the intricacies of the golf course.

In this case, the pitch is St. Andrews and the Old Course for the Open Championship and the player who is enduring an exorbitant amount of armchair quarterbacking is Jordan Spieth.

With the third leg of the single-season Grand Slam hanging in the balance, Spieth will fulfill his commitment to the John Deere Classic and play the week before the British Open.

Those with short memories and narrow focus consider the move a mistake, suggesting the 21-year-old’s time would be better spent learning the nuances of the Old Course.

Lost in that assessment, however, is the fact that Spieth played the week before the Masters this year, finishing second at the Shell Houston Open before lifting the green jacket.

Tiger Woods ingrained into a generation of golf fans that less is more when it comes to scheduling, but what was best for Tiger isn’t necessarily a winning formula for everyone.


All signs point to Jordan Spieth honoring his commitment to the John Deere Classic, and that’s exactly what he should do.

At age 21, Spieth doesn’t have a lot of tournament stops that would classify as familiar, but TPC Deere Run is certainly one of them. He’s been playing in this event since 2012, and he has taken the cross-continental charter from there to the Open Championship each of the past two years. Nothing about that process will prove unusual.

What is unusual, of course, is the quest for the third leg of the Grand Slam that awaits him at St. Andrews. He will have plenty of time to get acclimated to a newfound level of scrutiny in Scotland, and he should be able to shake off the jet lag well before his first-round tee time.

Spieth has managed to bring his game from Illinois to the U.K. each of the last two years – in fact, after a playoff win in 2013, he scrambled to make the charter and still shot an opening-round 69 at Muirfield.

His week at the Old Course will be like nothing he has ever experienced. An extra few days in Scotland won’t change that, so he might as well take a familiar route to the season’s third major.


The ideal prep for the Open is to tee it up alongside Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy at the Scottish Open, but I respect the kid for honoring his commitment, as he did with a post-Masters trip to Hilton Head.

Besides, there are worse ways for Spieth to spend the final few days leading up to his bid at history. He’ll be feted like a movie star at the Deere, where he earned his first title in 2013, and it’ll only help his confidence to fill up the hole at the annual birdie-fest.

At 21, Spieth has already shown an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion in the sport’s biggest moments. I have no doubt he’ll be ready to play come Thursday at St. Andrews. 


Spieth's loyalty to his commitments is admirable. He showed up at Harbour Town the week after winning the Masters, and the Deere holds a special place in his heart after he made it his first PGA Tour victory in 2013.

That said, he'd be better served getting over to Scotland early. Nothing about TPC Deere Run is going to prepare him for St. Andrews, and Chambers Bay wasn’t exactly traditional links golf. If he wants to play the week before so his game is competitively sharp, the Scottish Open is his best bet to get acclimated to what he’ll face the week after. (Then again, he’s celebrating in the Bahamas and I’m not, so maybe he knows what he’s doing.)