Jordan Spieth says missing Presidents Cup ‘really sucked’, but he’s fired up for a comeback
When the 2019 Presidents Cup qualification period was over, and Tiger Woods had revealed his four captain’s picks, Jordan Spieth’s name was nowhere to be found. When World No. 1 Brooks Koepka withdrew due to injury, Woods replaced him with Rickie Fowler.
Spieth was snubbed again. It’s one thing to not qualify for one of the eight automatic spots after a down year, but how is it that a three-time major champion and former United States team stalwart was not among the 13 best American golfers?
But it wasn’t a surprise for anyone who had been paying attention to the latest action on the PGA Tour. The 26-year-old’s performance has fallen off dramatically in recent years. After holding the No. 1 ranking as recently as 2016, Spieth has plummeted to No. 45 in the OWGR, behind Americans like Billy Horschel (No. 39) and Chez Reavie (No. 40) and even little-known Frenchman Victor Perez (No. 41).
But that’s all in the rearview now, and Spieth has shifted his focus squarely on reclaiming his game in 2020. On Tuesday ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth admitted that missing out on the Presidents Cup team was jarring, and it may have provided him with an extra bit of inspiration for his comeback. He watched some of the competition during a vacation in the Bahamas, but it doesn’t sound like it was much fun.
“For me personally, it really sucked, yeah. I hated — I hated not being there to help support the team and be a part of it and gain points for Team USA,” Spieth said on Tuesday. “That part was really tough as I expected, but at the same time it’s fire to not miss another one.”
Spieth first played on a U.S. team when Fred Couples selected him via captain’s pick for the 2013 Presidents Cup. He’s auto-qualified for every team competition since, including the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cups, becoming a mainstay on the team and a crucial point-scorer.
Watching his teammates compete without him for the first time in seven years was painful, and while it may have given Spieth more motivation to make the next U.S. team, he later explained, “I don’t think I needed any more.”
“I just kind of wished I was there helping the team out, playing my best golf for the team,” Spieth said. “There’s very few better feelings than playing your best golf, representing your country in those team events. That was more the feeling. It wasn’t extra motivation, it was already there.”
The same goes for Spieth’s strategy to make the 2020 Ryder Cup team. When asked how much focus he was putting on making the squad, Spieth gave a Tiger-like response, saying that “there’s no Ryder Cup qualifying tournament, you know,” and arguing that if he successfully turns his game around, everything else will take care of itself.
“I put focus on the majors every year and if I do my job in those majors, the perks come with it, including being on the Ryder Cup team. It’s not hard to not look ahead for me. Like I said, focusing on the here and now.”
The first step to making that happen is increasing his career win total of 11, which hasn’t budged since 2017. And the first chance he has to do that is this week at Torrey Pines, where he’ll face a star-studded field featuring Woods, World No. 2 Rory McIlroy and Fowler, among others.
Spieth said he “putted and chipped the ball really nicely last year,” and the key to his comeback is addressing timing and mechanical issues that have led him astray. He’s taking advantage of 3D-motion-capture technology to identify problem areas and get his swing back to where it was in 2015-17 when he regularly dominated the majors.
While the likes of McIlroy, Koepka, and his good friend Justin Thomas have wrested control of the Tour since, Spieth still can be the once and future king. He’s got half of the equation down, he’s clearly working hard on the rest.
Spieth tees off in the opening round of the Farmers Insurance at 1:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
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