Spieth After Pre-Masters Missed Cut: Other Players Know "We Strike Fear" Next Week

Will Gray reporting from the Shell Houston Open where Jordan Spieth's missed cut wouldn't have turned many heads except for a fascinating post-round quote.

The 2015 Masters champion said:

“I think we know, and the other players that are playing next week know, that we strike fear in others next week,” Spieth said. “So that’s our idea, that’s going to be my confidence level going in, and we’ll step on the first tee ready to play.”

Spieth Co-Designing Par-3 Course For UT Golf Club

Kirk Bohls reports that Jordan Spieth has entered the design world as a consultant to Roy Bechtol on a par-3 course for UT Golf Club in Austin.

The course will be called The Spieth Lower 40.

“I’m excited about it,” Spieth said. “It’s going to be a cool little par-3 golf course that will be demanding visually but still fair for really solid wedge and short game work. I was definitely very hands on. I looked at the blueprints, the mapping, the scale. It’s cool being part of the design process with Roy because I’m interested in doing that later in life.”

The 4.5 acre course is under construction with a goal to open in September according to coach John Fields.

Spieth Gives An Astute Take On The Vagaries Of Match Play

While much has been (rightfully) made of Jordan Spieth's desire to put the Masters behind him in hopes of putting the 2016 condolences to an end, I found his comments on match play to be of note.

Some background: on top of finding a lively spot in Austin with a strong sponsor, the WGC Dell Match Play is benefitting from a round robin format that has quieted most of the "vagaries" or "flukiness" of match play talk. 

Still, some understandably miss the knock-out element while others simply will never think match play is a proper format. For both camps, Spieth's comments are worth reading and considering. Because instead of focusing on the potential of running into a buzzsaw, he sees those days as survival opportunities.

This tournament is difficult to win because you can't shoot 6-under seven times in a row. Nobody does it. So your days where you maybe shoot 1, 2-under, your off days need to be 1 or 2-under, for one thing. And when that happens you hope you meet an opponent who is around the same.

In order to win a match play event, which I've done going back to U.S. Juniors, you've got to squeak out one or two wins where that wasn't very pretty. And that's kind of how it works in this event. Guys aren't running away from it. And you don't get lucky with the guy across from you not playing his best. You meet a guy when he's playing great and you're playing great and you have to win that match. And then if you're off, if they're a little off, you have to find something in you that allows win it.

And he is very much a play the course and opponent type, as he laments here in thinking of his loss last year here to Louis Oosthuizen:

You're only playing against one other guy. Play off of him. Take chances where you need to, but back off where you need to.

And I maybe got a little bit too aggressive mentally against Louis. And he's a very difficult player to play match play, such a beautiful swing, a great driver of the golf ball, makes you think you have to do more than you really need to do.

Also Spieth suggested he would love to see a major decided at match play as the PGA once was. This Sky Sports story has the quotes.

And one last reminder, there's an Odyssey and pride involved in the ShackHouse WGC Dell Match Play bracketology. You have until 10:00 am ET Wednesday to enter!

Spieth's Ballstriking Carries Him To AT&T Title, Carson Daly Wins Pro-Am

Kevin Casey of Golfweek.com has the notes wrap up of Jordan Spieth's 2017 AT&T National Pro-Am win.

Most striking Sunday was how Spieth's ballstriking seemed to carry him down the stretch as his putter cooled off. For someone often wrongly accused as being merely a great putter, the ballstriking display had to make his critics take notice. Ryan Lavner with a wrap of Spieth's ninth PGA Tour win, including this:

In 2015, Spieth ranked in the top 15 in strokes-gained driving, approaches, short game and putting. It was clinical. But Spieth’s ball-striking tailed off last season, and he said he worked as hard as he ever has during the offseason with swing coach Cameron McCormick.

“He’s always hungry,” Greller said. “He’s not somebody who is ever going to coast. It’s fun to work for a guy like that. Always hungry. Always driven.”

The hard work has paid off. Though he has bemoaned a cold putter – the middle two rounds boosted his confidence, pouring in putts on spongy, bumpy greens – Spieth has been one of the best iron players on Tour and ranks inside the top 10 in strokes gained overall.

“People think it’s only his putter,” Greller said, “but he’s incredibly well-rounded when you really break down the stats.”

In Pro-Am news, 10-handicapper Carson Daly (10!) teamed with Ken Duke to shoot 63 sunday and finish at -33 net to win. James Raia reports for the Monterey County Herald.

And flashing back to Saturday, Bill Murray avoided letting Phil Blackmar talked to him, and appeared to have a beef with the cameraman.

The final round highlights from PGA Tour Productions:

 

Ramifications Galore From Spieth's Plan To Remain Titleist-Loyal

There were some intriguing remarks by Jordan Spieth to CNBC's Jessica Golden about his plans to remain loyal to his Titleist sticks. Three primary reasons: one, he's not helping his negotiating position going into a contract renewal. Two, he's exhibiting unusual loyalty and foresight compared to many of his peers who made costly switches And three, he doesn't sound like someone laying groundwork for Under Armour to join the golf equipment industry.

From the story:

When Nike announced it's getting out of the golf equipment business, Spieth said that caught many people off guard. "That was a bit of a shock when that came down," he said. However, Spieth said his PGA tour colleagues sponsored by Nike, most notably, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, enjoy the flexibility of playing with what they want. Spieth says they frequently talk shop to each other about the different equipment brands and clubs.

Despite that, Spieth has no plans to give up playing with his Titleist clubs. "I have played Titleist my whole life, so I just trust it," he said. Acushnet, which owns Titleist, had an IPO this month. Spieth said he didn't get any stock with the offering but he imagines he'll be a shareholder at some point.

"In golf trusting what you are wearing and playing with is first and foremost so you don't have to worry about anything but your game."

Spieth: I'd Be Getting Positive Questions If Not For 2015

Jordan Spieth's logic seems perfectly reasonable: he gets negative questions about his 2016 game given that it's no where near his 2015 game. But given that he hasn't posted an under par score since the first round of the Masters and is skipping the Olympics for undisclosed health reasons, I'm not entirely sure the positive questions would be flowing, either.

The full clip after Spieth's 72 at Royal Troon leaving him at +5 for The Open.

Rio 2016: Spieth, McIlroy Fumble The Torch

It's a day that won't be looked on with much affection by those who admire the skill, passion and leadership roles Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have been carrying for golf.

Inheriting and running with the torch handed to them in recent years--and enjoying the perks that come with the gig--these popular and impressive athletes have inspired young people. They've reminded the world that golf is a sport played by passionate figures.  And they have done their part when called upon to spread the gospel of golf to new lands. But after passing on the 2016 Rio games for reasons that seem less than their normally honest feelings, they've fumbled the torch each seemed so proud to have taken from golf's revered champions of the past.

Golf in the Olympics, while flawed due to the format and crowded schedule, is still one week out of their lives that could have cemented them as ambassadors, world-class sportsman willing to eat Olympic Village food for a week, and all around gents who love golf so much they'll show up in Rio for four whole days of potentially exciting golf.

However, the lads have stumbled in passing on Rio for an undisclosed health reason (Spieth), and altogether dismissing Olympic golf in a petty manner (McIlroy).

Spieth, who had called this a fifth major, signed with Olympic presenting sponsor Coca Cola to be part of its campaign, and who genuinely seems determined to become a sporting legend, could never quite disclose the reason he waffled right up to the inopportune moment of announcing his decision at a major championship (Alex Myers with Spieth's comments here.)

More disconcerting was the assertion that this was the hardest decision of his life, paramount to a college choice. While many around the world would envy someone who has never faced a decision more difficult than deciding to play in the first Olympic golf competition in 104 years or whether to go to UT or USC, the gravity suggests Spieth isn't quite prepared for the modern limelight that is so harsh. Trying to crack a joke about carrying the torch didn't help.

But at least Spieth seems to have genuinely agonized over this. McIlroy, however, went a disappointing path in belittling the competition by suggesting it is not one that matters. While John Huggan rightly notes the brutal honesty of McIlroy is, in part, why he is beloved and paid handsomely to be a global brand ambassador, McIlroy didn't have to put Olympic golf down because he's decided not to go.

The key quote from James Corrigan's Telegraph story:

“But, look, I get where different people come from and different people have different opinions. But I'm very happy with the decision that I've made and I have no regrets about it. I'll probably watch the Olympics, but I'm not sure golf will be one of the events I watch.”

When pressed which events these would be, he replied: “Probably the events like track and field, swimming, diving, the stuff that matters.”

As Jason Sobel wrote of the surreal at ESPN.com:

Unlike Spieth's delicate attempt to convey golf's relevance in the Olympics without his participation, McIlroy stuck a knife in the back of the event and twisted it. Hard.

Ultimately golf is an individual sport played successfully by those who think very hard about themselves, their goals and their needs. Spieth and McIlroy confirmed they are no different than many past champions in putting their needs first. The difference, however, is that while past champions were often selfish and inconsistent at times, they were never handed a torch resembling this Olympic opportunity.

"Will speeding up bring scores down for Spieth?"

That's the question Jason Sobel's story poses after Jordan Spieth explain why he's trying to speed up. While he's earned a reputation as a slow poke, I would counter that television makes him look slow because he's been spending a lot of time over the ball. Whereas someone who is much slower like Zach Johnson, spends ages making a decision and when television comes to him, we rarely see that.

Anyway, Spieth has heard the criticism from fans and his instructor, Sobel says.

After the second round, Spieth didn't use playing quicker as an excuse. In fact, he credits the process for helping his game.

"The quicker part actually helps me, because then I just get up there and fire away," he explained Friday. "The more I can do that, actually I think the better off [I am with a] kind of gun-slinging mentality, just to go up and hit the way I always have played."

Spieth Now Talking Down Golf's Future Olympic Prospects?!

And mentioning a possible John Deere Classic appearance over the chance to win and Olympic medal?

Sad.

Yes, there's a lot to chew on with all of the Olympic golf WD's by the male golfers.

There is little doubt that Rio is a dangerous, strange place that isn't high on many summer must-visit lists. The idea of the Olympics landing in the middle of a busy schedule stinks. But we've known that a while. And Zika virus is a scary thing if you want to start a family in the immediate future, though few in Brazil are as worried as male golfers who fancy themselves as possible sires for a future King.

Oh, and no one working at the Olympic golf course has contracted the virus.

But with so many male pro golfers withdawing from the 2016 games, there's no doubting now that most of the world has had their stereotypes of golfers reinforced. While athletes in all other sports, including women's golf, are set to go to Ri the male golfers saying they will not attend are increasingly seen as soft, non-athletes. Given how well compensated they are, many of them will laugh their way to the bank and ignore the comments of fans or fellow athletes.

That's all fine.

To read that Jordan Spieth, once all-in on Olympic golf and now waivering on his 2016 participation, doesn't even bother me.

What bothers: he has the gall to suggest golf's prospects as an Olympic sport have dimmed because of the recent WD's. Sure, he may have some inside info from his sponsors at Coca Cola, who he also posts Instagram ads for only to be reminded by his followers about the dangers of soft drinks.

But talking down 2020 and beyond to possibly lay the groundwork for a 2016 WD? Lame.

Will Gray with the roundup of Spieth's Firestone press conference in advance of, ironically, the utterly meaningless WGC Bridgestone which, unlike an Olympic gold medal, will never be mentioned in any player's obituary.

The only data that officials will have at their disposal will be what happened in Rio, a tournament that is likely to be defined as much by who wasn’t there as by who ultimately stood atop the medal podium.

“No matter what I do, it’s already – there’s already been enough players (withdrawing) that I think it’ll definitely have an impact,” Spieth said. “Pending some crazy, great finish or whatever, I think there’s a significantly lower likelihood now of it staying in the Olympics than there was six months ago.”

I have an idea for Jordan! Let's get to The Open early this time like you plan, and leave the IOC-politicking to the guys in suits.

Meanwhile, Jason Day, who obviously regrets having to pass on Rio, at least was trying to be positive about golf as an Olympic sport going forward:

Q. Jason, do you hope that the decision makers that choose the sports in the Olympics and whatnot can look past this situation and not let it affect golf's future in the games and hope that it's just a one-off?

JASON DAY: Yeah, I think it is a one-off. It depends. Certain things we just don't know. Like something could happen elsewhere down the road, and unfortunately that could make people pull out. I just hope they look past this and go, you know, we're looking at the bigger picture and trying to grow the game, and hopefully if they can do that, then the Olympics can stay -- the golf can stay in the Olympics and everyone can move on to hopefully Tokyo and try and play there.

Jordan: Over The Masters, Wonders About The Oakmont Bunker Fluffing, Remains Committed To Rio**

Joel Beall with a GolfDigest.com report on Jordan Spieth's Monday press conference at Oakmont, where the defending champion was asked a bit about last year, and a lot about his Masters finish. Spieth sounds over it even if we are not.

Beall lays out how the back and forth went down.

"It was just a mis-hit. I wasn't trying to hit it at the hole," the two-time major winner said about his dunks in Rae's Creek. "Two badly timed swings."

From there, how do you move on?

"I just made two poor timed swings. It happens."

I mean now?

"I did move on. I moved on."

Doug Ferguson reports that Spieth saw huge changes in Oakmont and didn't sound overly thrilled with a stark change in the bunker sand denity.

"When I played it six weeks ago, there was very compact sand, and that meant that if the ball trickled into the sand, it wasn't a bad shot," Spieth said. "Just barely went into the sand, you could hit the green no problem (if) you hit a good, solid shot. They have dumped so much sand into these bunkers, and now it is so tough to get a clean strike on the ball."

At Monday's architecture forum held for select USGA members, Superintendent John Zimmers chalked it up to a fluffing procedure on the sand last week, combined with Sunday's dry wind. The USGA's Mike Davis said some moisture would be added but also said expected rain was part of the thinking.

Steve DiMeglio highlighted the Masters loss discussion with some historical perspective and also rightly noted Spieth's observation about the finishing holes.

“If you don’t hit fairways on the last five holes, you could lose a 4- or 5-shot lead like that. Just not even doing anything wrong. You can hit decent shots that just barely miss the fairway. And all of a sudden, you have to do well to have 10 feet for par. ...

“So as much as I speak to major championships being like two events in one, you have to have the patience for two rounds each round.”

Josh Berhow at Golf.com noted how Spieth left open a slight crack in the door to skipping the Rio games. Granted, it's an opening only a mouse could slip through, but it was a change in attitude toward the Zika issue.

“I’m not sure where I’ll play next, even after this week,” Spieth said. “You never know. Right now I’m pretty confident with what we have heard from not only the PGA Tour but our personal outreach. I think being an Olympian is just an absolute tremendous honor, but does being an Olympian outweigh any kind of health threat? No. If I thought that the threat was significant I certainly wouldn’t go, but based on what’s come to my knowledge at this point it seems like it’s going to be an extremely memorable experience and I look forward to trying to win a gold for the United States.