What happened to Jordan Spieth? How golf’s next big thing descended into paralysis by analysis
“Go get that,” Jordan Spieth shouted, ordering his caddie, Michael Greller, to pick up the ball that had just dived into the cup from 48 feet. It was a display of such prodigious nerve, or “moxie” as his fellow Texans might call it, that his three-word instruction on Royal Birkdale’s 15th green would soon be emblazoned on his fans’ baseball caps, marking the moment he wrapped up his first Open title. On that drizzly Southport evening in 2017, he was, at 23, the youngest player in history to hold three majors and 11 tour victories. By far the most arresting statistic, though, is that he has not won again since. Every year since his Augusta debut in 2014, where he tied for second behind Bubba Watson, Spieth has been a fixture of the Masters’ build-up, analysing the vagaries of the course with precocious authority. This time, he is not even included on the interview schedule, despite winning in 2015 and finishing inside the top three on four of his six starts. The boy king who became world No 1 in only his third season on the PGA Tour finds himself 81st in the standings, his ranking falling faster than the Zoom share price on the day an effective Covid-19 vaccine is confirmed. It is a capricious mistress, fame. One moment Birkdale’s autograph-hunters are falling over ropes to glad-hand you, the next the tournament where you have enjoyed the greatest success is trying to ease you gently into the shadows. In fairness, Augusta will ensure that Spieth has his share of privileges this week, as he takes his place at Tiger Woods’ table for the champions’ dinner on Tuesday and slips back into the green jacket that barely left his side after his triumph five years ago. The jacket is far too large for him, since he never had it tailored. Alas, his billing as golf’s next phenomenon – in keeping with his status as only the second man to win three different majors before the age of 24, the other being Jack Nicklaus – has also proved increasingly difficult to wear.
Published: 2020-11-11 03:26:53
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