With the Masters a month away, Jordan Spieth plays catch-up after a rough winter

March 7, 2018

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Jordan Spieth feels as though he has been playing catch-up all year.

Spieth had a memorable offseason when he proposed (successfully) to longtime girlfriend Annie Verret. What suffered were his preparations for a new year after a bout with mononucleosis. He lost weight. More importantly, he lost time.

That’s one reason he was on the fence about his schedule leading up to the Masters. Spieth didn’t firmly decide to play in the Mexico Championship until the last minute, and that briefly made him rethink whether to play the Valspar Championship, which he won three years ago.

Ultimately, he did both.

“I was trying to figure out what was the best strategy to be as rested and prepared for Augusta,” Spieth said. “I just wasn’t sure. I haven’t had a whole lot of rest.”

His December can be understated, much like the time it took Dustin Johnson to fully recover from his back injury before the Masters last year.

Spieth is playing his sixth tournament of the year at the Valspar Championship, but part of him feels like it’s January. All because of December, when he said he had only four one-hour practice sessions.

“I probably lost a full month, month-and-a-half out of it,” Spieth said. “The problem was in that time coming back, the basic stuff after you take a couple of weeks off … is the time you figure out all the basics: the ball position, the alignment issues. And then I was starting to have those problems, especially in the short game, while I was having to play tournaments. And so it adds to that frustration level.”

It hasn’t been a total flop. Spieth has had only two rounds over par, in the opening round of Kapalua and Phoenix. While he missed the cut in Phoenix, his worst other finish was a tie for 20th at Pebble Beach.

After the Valspar Championship, he is off next week before Match Play, the Houston Open and the Masters.