Where have you gone, Jordan Spieth?
What happened to the guy who won three major championships before his 22nd birthday, ascended to No. 1 in the world and didn’t seem to have a worry in the world?
What happened to the guy who made every important putt he looked at?
What happened to the youthful exuberance that used to be painted all over his face?
Has anyone seen that Jordan Spieth?
No one saw him Saturday at Winged Foot in the third round of the U.S. Open, because he missed the cut Friday by eight shots after shooting 81 in the second round.
Did you even know Spieth was in the U.S. Open field this week? Because no one was talking about him leading into the tournament. He’s gone from being one of the favorites at every major championship to a complete afterthought.
Here’s when I was reminded that Spieth was, indeed, at Winged Foot this week: As Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa were arriving to the second tee of Thursday’s opening round, a cart driven by a USGA official arrived to the tee with Spieth seated in the passenger seat carrying his driver.
Spieth had just lost his tee shot — it ended up in a tree to the right of the fairway and somehow never returned to Earth — so he had to go back and re-tee, which is golf’s version of a courthouse perp walk.
With Woods, Thomas and Morikawa waiting, Spieth hurriedly stuck a peg in the ground, teed up his ball, swatted his second drive on the hole and, with a sheepish smile of embarrassment, scurried back onto the USGA cart and was whisked away to finish his round, which ended in 3-over 73.
He followed the 73 with the 81 on Friday and was on his way home by evening.
Who could have thought, after Spieth won the British Open in 2017, that three years later his game would be as lost as he thought his tee shot was on that famous 13th hole in the final round at Royal Birkdale?
Spieth currently is ranked No. 67 in the world, and he’s not doing anything particularly well — not even putting, which used to be his calling card.
His average score of 73.13 is ranked 100th on the PGA Tour. His total strokes gained against the field is ranked 105th. He’s ranked 113th in strokes gained tee to green, 143rd in strokes gained approach to the green, 104th in strokes gained off the tee, 138th in greens in regulation and 92nd in strokes gained putting.
You get the picture. It’s not pretty.
“Standing on a tee at the U.S. Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling,’’ Spieth said after his opening round Thursday.
It’s been difficult to watch for several reasons, beginning with the fact Spieth is a good guy who seems to do all the right things.
He, too, has been working tirelessly to recapture the magic that got him to No. 1 in the world in the first place and has had little in the way of positive results reinforcement to show for it.
Usually, when a player’s results spin as sideways as Spieth’s have, one of the first moves the player makes is to make a coaching change for a new perspective. This is complicated because Spieth has been with his coach, Cameron McCormick, since he was 12 years old. If anything, McCormick could — should — make it easier on Spieth and suggest to him that another set of eyes might help.
The scene on the second tee Thursday was so sadly fitting of Spieth’s current plight in that he appears lost and in need of a fresh start.
“Tough break early,’’ Spieth said of the lost tee shot on No. 2 that led to double bogey.
“There’s a lot that’s off,’’ he said. “I’m not really sure. If I knew, I’d fix it. It’s really frustrating.’’
It’s frustrating to watch, because Spieth is a guy you root for.
“I’ve had just about everything happen to me in the game of golf,’’ Spieth said.
He needs to some good things to start happening again — things like the hole-in-one his playing partner, Patrick Reed, carded on the seventh hole Thursday. Maybe the Masters in November, the site of one of his three major championship victories and a place he plays well, will rekindle his game.
Spieth needs to remember he’s just 27. Success came early for him. That doesn’t mean it can’t come again.
“It’s not incredibly enjoyable,’’ he said. “But I’ll grind it out. I don’t ever give up. I have no reason to. I’m here.’’
Until he wasn’t for the weekend at Winged Foot.