ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Much was made of Jordan Spieth’s decision to honor a commitment and play the John Deere Classic last week, but as he said Wednesday at St. Andrews, “I don’t think anybody is going to argue with a win.”
The world No. 2 ticked every box last week – he knocked off some of the rust after two weeks away, he played his way into contention and then, on Sunday, he hoisted the trophy, after prevailing in a two-hole playoff with journeyman Tom Gillis.
“That was the game plan,” Spieth said Wednesday. “I’m happy that it worked out.”
After his fourth win of the season, Spieth flew on the charter flight from Illinois to Scotland and didn’t arrive to the Old Course until mid-afternoon Monday. He played an 18-hole practice round with only caddie Michael Greller and swing coach Cameron McCormick – the first time he has seen the course since a friendly round with his U.S. Walker Cup teammates in 2011 – and didn’t wrap up his day’s work until about 8:45 p.m. local time.
Tiger Woods said that when he was younger, he used to play practice rounds with veterans so he could pick their brains about strategy. Spieth is taking a different approach, joining up with friends and playing more holes than he typically does at a course he hasn’t seen in tournament conditions. On Tuesday, he played a 10-hole loop with Ryan Palmer and amateur Ollie Schniederjans, and he planned a full practice round Wednesday with Brooks Koepka, J.B. Holmes and Matt Jones, all relative newcomers to the Old Course.
“In my views I’ve seen a tendency for us to sometimes overanalyze,” Spieth said, “and so we’ve been trying to just dissect it on our own with Cameron and me and Michael.
“We’ve kind of plotted our way around, and (Wednesday) will be a good test on really just executing on the lines that we’ve all gotten over the past couple of days. I think we could overanalyze this course, and I don’t think we are doing so. I think simple is better – just go off the same feels we’ve had, and just try and execute fairway, green, and get into a rhythm.”
Jet lag hasn’t been a problem for the 21-year-old, though that’s not totally unexpected. After all, in late November, he captured the Australian Open, flew halfway around the world and then won the World Challenge by 10 shots the following week.
“Coming over earlier certainly could have helped,” he said. “I just liked the fact that I could go somewhere I could play hard, and possibly win a PGA Tour event in preparation. But certainly, more time on this golf course couldn’t ever hurt anybody.”