As City Slickers’ cowboy “Curly” might put it, all that’s missing from Jordan Spieth’s revival story is … one thing.
To be sure, it has been a bounce-back season for Spieth. He has 20 PGA Tour starts so far, a victory at the Valero Texas Open, five other top-4s and a total of eight top-10s.
The victory in Texas for the Texas native was the 12th of his PGA Tour career, but the first in nearly four years. In between, he rarely contended, much less won. He struggled to find his touch, both off the tee and on the greens, and he slid to the outer limits of the world rankings.
But the resurgence now has Spieth at No. 23 in the recent OWGR, and back in the conversation of players “to watch.”
If you consider the shots-gained statistics, the consistent iron play and the reliable putting stroke, the 27-year-old Spieth is featuring, arguably, the best golf of his career. But the most celebrated golf of his career still sits in the rearview mirror.
In 2015, Spieth set the sports world on fire with back-to-back wins in the Masters and the U.S. Open, and near misses at both the British Open and the PGA Championship.
The following spring, he was in command at the Masters once more until a disastrous quadruple bogey at No. 12 on Sunday. Still, Spieth rebounded across the pond in 2017, coming from behind to sting Matt Kuchar, winning his third major in the British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Then the fireworks stopped. As mentioned, a spiraling Spieth would go more than three years without winning another tournament. So yes, his resume in 2021 has been a tale of revitalization.
All that's missing is one thing - a major. Perhaps it won’t be missing much longer.
While it’s only the opening round, the resurgent Spieth had the look on Thursday. He gave the reinstated galleries at Royal St. George’s reason to speculate, with a 5-under-par 65. He trails clubhouse leader Louis Oosthuizen by one shot.
"I like being in contention at major championships," Spieth told Golf Channel. "It's fun. I've fortunately been there a lot. I've done a little bit of everything from that position. That's what we play for."
The play, and the score, were richly familiar. Spieth got on a roll on the front side, bunching four birdies in succession from Nos. 5-8. He then birdied Nos. 16 and 17 coming home to smother the only glitch, an early bogey at the difficult 3rd hole.
This was the Spieth of old, hitting fairways, hammering irons, rolling in putts, hanging around the lead. This was a 65 for Spieth, the same first-round number he posted on the way to winning in 2017. This was the special Spieth, the purposeful Spieth, the Spieth that British Open crowds know well.
In addition to his three-shot win at Royal Birkdale in ’17 - and even during his slump - Spieth has performed will in a links environment. He tied for 20th at Royal Portrush in 2019, finished T9 at Carnoustie in 2018 and T4 at St. Andrews in 2015.
"From the time I first came over here in 2007 or 2008, I've always loved links golf," Spieth said. "It has some similarities to growing up in Texas, playing in the wind, having to flight the ball, hit a lot of different shots. Then the imagination - I've always liked to have (it) on and around the greens."
More Day 1 British Open Coverage From Morning Read
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- Rory McIlroy's Putter, And History, Work Against Him in Round 1
- Spieth (65) Enjoys Vintage Opening Round in Quest to Cap Comeback Season
- Louis Oosthuizen, Jordan Spieth Start Fast in Round 1
- Phil Mickelson Tied for Last After Shooting Ugly 80
- Cink Eyes Follow-up Act to 2009 Open Title Over Tom Watson
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