Spieth goes to work on his head and his game

Oh, such a pain: Jordan Spieth walks off No. 18 Saturday at the end of his Players Championship. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Oh, such a pain: Jordan Spieth walks off No. 18 Saturday at the end of his Players Championship. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. – Jordan Spieth, you’re on the couch.

Tell us what’s bothering you.

“I just need to grind on my short game over the next few days and get ready. If I putt anywhere up to the standard that I normally putt, even with a couple bad breaks here and there, I’m at 6 or 7 under.” (He was 1-under 143, to miss the cut at the Players Championship).

Go on.

“I just think that, you know, I’m beating myself up a little bit too much on the golf course and it’s affecting me and I realize that now.”

Really?

“I feel rested. I feel healthy. My ball striking feels great. I just need to be a little bit more positive with myself on the course and maybe kind of lower expectations a little bit and just kind of free myself up. It just seems I’m so tense and I just need to get back to the way I enjoy playing golf. And I’m not far off.”

These were some of the self-realizations offered by Spieth before he left the weather-delayed Players Championship Saturday morning. When he returned in the morning to complete his second round, Spieth needed to play his final four holes in 1 under to survive the cut. He bogeyed his first hole and could not quite compensate for it, playing those final four in even par.

The world’s second-ranked player, making his first tournament appearance since the chance to win his second Masters died with two in the water on No. 12, was spot on.

Spieth’s putting, his signature stroke, was in obvious need of honing. The artist’s touch was gone, as he continually bombed putts well past the hole. Spieth was 123rd in the Players Championship in strokes gained putting.

And his body language suggested a continual state of disgust. He was fighting himself as much, if not more, than he was battling TPC Sawgrass.

Another telling comment before he left: “I just need to do a better job of being positive with myself and smiling a bit more, having a bit more fun.

“And it’s tough when you’re getting shellacked by 15 shots in the same group (he was paired with leader Jason Day those two days). When someone’s birdieing almost every single hole, every other hole, you start to wonder why in the world you aren’t making any of them.”

Watching for Spieth to rediscover his mojo and his joy will be one of golf’s big intrigues between here and the U.S. Open in a month.

He’ll return to his native Texas for two events there – the Byron Nelson and the Colonial – in the hopes that familiar surroundings will aid and comfort. “I’ll get some good work in with Cameron (McCormick, swing coach), get my short game sharp and really get off to a better start. And that will take some of the stress off.”

That was a very good session, Jordan. I think we made some real breakthroughs today.

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