Jordan Spieth on Managing Swing and Expectations for 2017

After what many considered to be a down year in 2016, Jordan Spieth returns more focused than ever in 2017.

“If last year is a down year for us, we’re in really good shape,” Jordan Spieth said to media regarding 2016 just before the SBS Tournament of Champions. “It was still a great year in 2016, but I learned a lot on both end of things, highs and lows, which I didn’t really have many lows in 2015 and after that it was just trying to climb up to the top level.”

But he is looking forward to this year.

“I was happy when the ball touched down and 2017 started,” he said.

In other words, 2016 was a learning experience, which he believes he can use to his advantage.

“It didn’t necessarily help that 2016, ( I had) my own and anyone else’s expectations, given the performance that we had (in 2015),” he continued. “But I also knew that that wasn’t realistic to continue to do.”

He said having the big lead at the Masters on Sunday and then not getting the job done didn’t help.

“I thought, the last five majors, I had a chance to win, why won’t this continue?” he admitted.

Still, Spieth believes he can deliver good play and that remains his goal.

During the off season, he rested as much as he could. He continued to work on his swing and his short game, as he detailed in December. He worked on ball-striking before the Emirates Australian Open and the Hero World Challenge. And while his putting and short game helped him win in Australia, putting was not where it should have been at the Hero.

He said he’s been working more on putting in the break after Hero, and his confidence remains high after the victory in Australia.

“Certainly any time you have a recent win, which is — you know, there’s only one separating from the last time we won, you think about that, and even if it’s only a month and a half apart, six weeks apart, it’s still a confidence boost,” he said. “So take it into this season and try to get in the winner’s circle as quickly as possible and feed off that.”

As far as his game, he said, right now, it’s all about practice and more reps. Unfortunately, he’s spent more time resting than swinging clubs.

“Not quite to the rep range that I want to be at, but I’m working towards it,” he added.

“I just stick to our same game plan of getting the stroke and recognizing my alignment first, kind of the technical side of things, and then moving off and developing that feel back.”

On his short game, he said it’s definitely repetition, but not just hitting stock shots.

“It’s what happens if I knock-down and take a three-quarter swing, exactly how far is that flying, and what’s my tendency on that ball flight?” he asked. “Just what I do with my wedge work? And continuing it into really pitching wedge, 9-, 8-iron, we have a lot of those clubs as approach shots. Probably a majority of those shots we hit into holes on the PGA Tour are with a pitching wedge, 9-iron, 8-iron, somewhere in that 150-yard range, 30- to 70-yard range.”

While he is working to regain more feel for that part of his bag, he noted that he may have lost some of the feel because he was working so hard on his more controlled backswing.

Spieth is also learning to take a longer term approach regarding playing golf rather than a week or a season.

“The questions that are asked, it’s very present,” he noted. “I’ve been looking more to the future for goals, for kind of just my outlook on practice, overall wellness, work-out regimen. Just doing things and thinking about things from a long-term perspective that are, I think, going to make it a bit easier if things aren’t great short term.”

He already knows what he can do, based on 2015. Trying to recapture that form is the challenge.  However, in December, he did get back on the Augusta National horse and believes he took care of his issues at the 12th hole.

“I was very nervous when I got on 12 tee, and I hit an 8-iron over the bunker to about 15 feet,” he recalled. “I was like, there was no chance I was leaving this short, and I hit this putt to about 15, 18 feet. I was pumped to hit the green, and then I hit my putt and it just about stopped short on the front lip and fell in for two. I probably gave like a big fist pump. I was walking around with my hands up, like demon’s gone.”

That wasn’t enough though.

“I went back the next day,” he added about the 12th. “I hit a 9-iron this time to a left pin, and it landed about three feet beyond the hole, and it was really, really soft, and it sucked back and almost went in, right on the lip to about this far. So I got two twos out of No. 12 the first time back.”

Spieth was a guest of Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Jeff Yang at Augusta National.

Now he’s looking for anybody in their group who had a recording of his shots at the 12th, either day, so that he can do replays and positive imaging of the tee shots at the 12th that resulted in birdies. In other words, golf may be mental, but sometimes proof is nice.

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