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Opinion & Analysis

Is Jordan Spieth’s “slump” actually his new standard?



With every lackluster finish from Jordan Spieth, his dominant 2015 season and stellar ’16 and ’17 seasons feel more and more like ancient history. During post-round interviews, Spieth is increasingly sounding like a 15-handicapper who continuously assures everyone that they are a mere swing tweak away from single digits. Week after week, Spieth insists that he and his swing coach, Cameron McCormick, are well on their way to putting the pieces of that once-unstoppable swing back together, but The Open at Portrush marked two years since Spieth’s last victory, and after a season where he has more missed cuts than top 10s, his winless drought has no end in sight.

The young prodigy who emphatically announced his presence on the PGA Tour in 2013 with a dramatic win at the John Deere Classic has recently taken a nosedive in just about every statistical category measuring tee to green performance. While the numbers don’t lie, it also doesn’t take a statistician to see the deterioration of Spieth’s game. As of late, Jordan relies heavily on his scrambling, where he is undoubtedly still elite, ranking inside the top 25 in strokes gained (SG) around the green and 6th in SG putting, but a game that puts so much pressure on making par from treacherous spots inevitably leads to inconsistency, and he has struggled to put four rounds of solid golf together. While his tee to green stats dipped in 2018, they have completely plummeted this year, where he ranks 152nd in SG tee to green, and even worse off the tee. His irons have been poor, but his driver has been even worse, where he consistently struggles to find even 50 percent of fairways, which is particularly penal for Spieth because of his lack of any considerable length.

Perhaps there isn’t a fickler game than golf, and surely even the best in the world get a pass on a few months of poor play, but after two years of a substantial drop off in form, is there a chance that this Jordan we have been seeing lately is the Jordan we should expect to see in the coming decade?

The peculiar problem in analyzing Spieth’s young career is that it really is becoming a tale of two careers. For argument’s sake, 2013 can be called his arrival year, when he won for the first time and gained status on tour. In 2014, his first full year on tour, while he was without a win, he notched a second-place finish the Masters and leaped into the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, solidifying that his 2013 win was no fluke. Of course, that led to his five-win 2015 season, including the Masters and U.S. Open, followed by two wins in 2016 and three wins in 2017, one of those the Open at Royal Birkdale. That Open added his major tally to three at the age of 23, and given the head on his shoulders and his track record of success at every level, anyone with even a slight pulse on golf would say Spieth could be capable of ten or more major victories and there were even whispers of comparisons of Tiger Woods. Since that evening in England, though, Spieth is winless and clearly searching for answers specifically surrounding his swing. Anyone who has played golf knows how quickly a golfer can lose “it,” whatever that might be, but for Jordan, it seems this slump has officially turned into his new normal.

This is absolutely not to say that Spieth cannot or will not return to former glory, but it is clear now that something is wrong with his game and the time to press a metaphorical panic button may be sooner than later. The questions following Spieth in the last couple years have all revolved around when and how he will get his game back, but at some point, it may have to be asked if the Jordan Spieth of old will ever be seen again.

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Providence College Class of 2017. English Major, avid golfer and reader.



  1. Bobbigboy

    Aug 3, 2019 at 7:41 am

    Do not like the man when he was winning and now he is just a whinny little brat. The way he treat s his caddy is disgraceful, his conduct on course is not professional. He should shut up, find a real swing coach and play golf.

  2. John

    Aug 2, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Spieth’s problems began, and has progressively gotten worse, when he switched from Project X 6.0 to 6.5. He now over swings to accommodate the stronger flex, and accuracy has suffered greatly.

    • Drew

      Aug 3, 2019 at 9:05 am

      No, August 27, 2017 is why. The day he lost to DJ in the playoff at the Northern Trust.

  3. Justin

    Aug 2, 2019 at 10:01 am

    I said the same thing to my wife! Once Jordan tied knot his game has slumped.

    • Mike Marconi

      Aug 2, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      My sentiments exactly. But I think he should get a new swing coach and help straighten out that awful driver swing. Maybe learn how to fade the ball.

  4. Bobarino

    Aug 2, 2019 at 7:03 am

    I’m sure many other people had the same opinion of Spieth as I did when he was flying high a few years ago – he’s wound so tight that there was bound to be a time he came unravelled. Well, he’s been unravelled for a couple years now. That’s not to say that he won’t find his way again, but someone who’s wound so tight and constantly refers to relying on his “team” (a graceful thought, but perhaps overly solicitous), is bound to decompensate at some point and not now how to get it back wtihout relying on others. He will never be able to rely on others to prop up his anxiety prone personality as he once did. He’s gotta find it himself at this point. Who’s betting he will?

  5. Shallowface

    Aug 1, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    People miss the same thing with Spieth that they consistently missed with Tiger. That is, their dominance came when they were making every putt they saw. When that stopped, they were each just another one of many.

    Spieth had the putting year of a lifetime in 2015, and was still pretty good in 2016 and 2017. Since then, not so much. Unlike Tiger, he’s still young, so it is possible it could come back to that level. But if it doesn’t, he’ll not have another run like 2015-17 again. He’s not the level of ball striker to knock enough iron shots close that he can’t help shaking a few in.

    • Prime21

      Aug 2, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      So……..Tiger made EVERY putt for 15+ years? Don’t ever compare Jordan and Tiger, Jordan is nowhere in the vicinity. Whether you like it or not, Tiger is the greatest of all time, Jordan not so much. Tiger was an ELITE ball striker, Jordan was never that. His approach numbers from 150 in were solid and his short game is elite, but he will never be the ballstriker Tiger was/is. Agreed that Tiger was a great putter but that is not what held his game together, as it was with Jordan. Tiger did it for too long to be considered streaky, Jordan flamed out quickly. Love him or hate him Tiger and his record command respect and to put Jordan in his league or calling Tiger just one of many is ridiculous and proves you know very little about the game.

  6. Ben

    Aug 1, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    I can attest to what Spieth is going through. It happens to me often. I will be a scratch golfer for several months, then all the sudden lose it. Then I’m searching, searching to figure what changed. Sometimes it will be as simple as the feeling of the grip in my hands.

    FYI, I did get married recently, and it has happened more often since then..

  7. Nate

    Aug 1, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    David Duval part II

  8. Doug McManus

    Aug 1, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Give Jordan a rest, very tired of the news coverage on Jordan. Lets here stories on other Tour players?

  9. Sydney

    Aug 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Can anyone calculate Jordan’s SG before and after marriage? I know this particular event has caused many of my golfing buddies to lose “it”

    • TeddyRux

      Aug 1, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      ^^This person has figured out the true answer.
      MANY a pro players “lost it” due to a women (or womens in Tigers case)
      Heck look at how far off the deep end Sregio cant stand that guy Garcia went after tying the knot

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Opinion & Analysis

Getting to know Payne Stewart



Ever since that final putt fell in Pinehurst in 1999, Payne Stewart’s memory has enjoyed mythical qualities. A man of complex charm, but many of us who grew up without him recognize only his Knickerbocker pants, his flat cap, and his W.W.J.D. covered wrist wrapped around that United States Open trophy.

I had a wonderful opportunity to play a round of golf with two men that know a lot about Payne. One through friendship and the other through journalistic research.

Lamar Haynes was Payne Stewart’s close friend and teammate on the SMU golf team. He’s full of stories about Payne from the good old days. Kevin Robbins is an author who just finished a new book on Stewart’s final year of life, set to release to the public for purchase this October. He works as a professor of journalism at the University of Texas but has also enjoyed an impressive career as a reporter and golf writer for over 20 years.

We met at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, to talk about Payne. Robbins is a solid golfer who spends time working on his game, which tells me a lot about his personality. He is one of us.  As for Haynes, the guy hasn’t lost much since those SMU golf team days. He can still swing it. Fantastic iron player. And both men are wonderful conversationalists. They offered a unique perspective on Stewart—the golfer I grew up idolizing but never really knew. There’s a good chance you don’t really know him, either. At least not the whole story.

“Most golf fans now know the story of his ’99 U.S. Open win,” Robbins said.  “What they don’t know is where he came from.”

Robbins’ book, The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Foreverchronicles Payne’s last year on earth with dramatic detail, covering his triumph at Pinehurst and the Ryder Cup at Brookline. And, of course, it tells the story of that tragic plane crash that took our champion from us. What the book doesn’t do is hide any of the blemishes about Payne’s life that have either been forgotten or pushed aside by brighter moments and memories.

“I thought that the other Payne Stewart books, while they have a place, they didn’t tell the whole story,” Robbins said.

The whole story, from what I read, was Payne being brash. A poor winner and sometimes a poor sport when he lost. He often said things he shouldn’t have said and then made those mistakes again and again.

“He had no filter,” remembered Haynes.  “Several close friends on tour had a hard time with him when he won his first Open. He didn’t take into account any of the consequences his words could create. He had a huge heart. Huge heart. But at times there was just no filter. But he grew a great deal over the last 2 or three years.”

It’s most certainly is a book about a change. A change in a man that was better late than never. But also a change in golf that began at the turn of the century and hasn’t really slowed down since.

“The 20 years since his death, to see the way golf has moved, what the tour looks like now,” Robins said.  “There was an evolution that was taking place in 1999 and we didn’t know how it would manifest itself. But now we do. So when you see Brooks Koepka hit a 3-wood in the US Open 370 yards, well that all really had its beginnings in 1998 and 1999. The Pro-V1 ball was being tested in 1999 and being rolled out in 2000. Fitness and equipment, sports psychology, nutrition. All of those things that a guy like Payne Stewart really didn’t have to pay attention to.”

But that change that occurred in Payne, culminating in his final year of life, is something worth learning. It’s a lesson for all of us. A guy on top of the world with still so much to fix. And he was fixing it, little by little.

“He was authentic,” Haynes said. “And he learned a lot later in life from his children. With their Bible studies. You saw a change in him. Very much. He had a peace with himself but he still would revert to his DNA. The fun-loving Payne. Raising children and being a father helped him tremendously.”

Payne was passionate about so many things in life but his children became a primary focus. According to Haynes, he would be so loud at his daughter’s volleyball games…yelling intensely at the referees…that they gave him an option: Either he wouldn’t be allowed to watch the games anymore or he needed to become a line judge and help out with the games. So, Payne Stewart became a volleyball line judge.

Lamar brought the head of an old Ram 7-iron along with him to show me. Damaged and bent from the crash, the club was with Payne on his final flight. He had it with him to show his guys at Mizuno as a model for a new set of irons. That Ram 7-iron belonged to Haynes and Payne had always adored the way it looked at address.

“Payne also used my old Mizunos the last year of his life,” Haynes said.  I had received the MS-4s 10 years earlier from Payne in 1989. They were like playing with a shaft on a knife. The sweet spot was so tiny on the MS-4. They made the MP29 and 14s look like game improvement irons. Payne used those. Then Harry Taylor at Mizuno designed him an iron, which later became the MP33. The 29 and 14s were very sharp and flat-soled. Well, Payne loved this old Ram iron set that I had.. He asked for my Ram 7-iron for Harry Taylor to model his new set. He liked the way it went through the turf. He had it with him on the plane. This is the club that started the MP33.”

It was Lamar Haynes, the man who seems to know just about everyone in the golf community, that set Robbins on this writing journey. Robbins had written one book previously: The story of the life of legendary golf coach Harvey Penick. But this book came a bit easier for Robbins, partly due to his experience, partly due to the subject matter, and partly because of Lamar.

“There’s a story here,” Robbins said. “With any book, you hope to encounter surprises along the way, big and little. And I did. I got great cooperation a long the way. Anybody I wanted to talk to, talked to me thanks to this guy Lamar Haynes.”

“Lamar said the first guy you need to talk to is Peter Jacobsen,” Robins said. “And I said ‘great can you put me in touch with him’ which became a common question to Lamar throughout the process.” Robbins chuckled.  “Literally 2 minutes later my phone rings. ‘Kevin, this is Peter Jacobsen here.'”

“Peter told me the story about the ’89 PGA championship in our first conversation. So literally in the first 10 minutes of my reporting effort, I had the first set piece of the book. I had something. Lamar made a lot happen.”

Lamar Haynes and Kevin Robbins

The book is not a biography, though it certainly has biographical elements to it. It is simply the story of Payne’s final year, with a look back at Payne’s not so simple career mixed in. The author’s real talent lives in the research and honesty. The story reads like you’re back in 1999 again, with quotes pulled from media articles or press conferences. Anecdotes are sprinkled here and there from all of Payne’s contemporaries. The storytelling is seamless and captivating.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much Colin Montgomerie remembered about the concession at the 1999 Ryder Cup,” Robbins said. “Colin can be a tough interview. He is generally mistrustful of the media. His agent gave me 15 minutes during the Pro-Am in Houston. This was in the spring of 2018. I met Colin on the 17th hole and he had started his round on 10. Just organically the conversation carried us to the fifth green. Just because he kept remembering things. He kept talking, you know. It was incredible. Tom Lehman was the same way. He said “I’ll give you 20 minutes” and it ended up being an hour and a half at Starbucks.”

The research took Robbins to Massachusetts, Florida, and Missouri—and of course, to Pinehurst. He met with Mike Hicks, Payne’s former caddie, there to discuss that final round. The two ended up out on Pinehurst No. 2, walking the last three holes and reliving the victory. It gives life to the story and fills it with detail.

“Part of what I hoped for this book is that it would be more than just a sports story,” Robbins said.  “More than just a golf story. The more I started thinking about where Payne began and where he ended, it seemed to me…and I’m not going to call it a redemption story although I bet some people do. People when they are younger, they have regrets and they make mistakes. They do things they wish they could take back but they can’t. So, what can they do? Well, they can improve. They can get better. That’s what Payne was doing with his life. He was improving himself. It was too late to change what he had done already. So what could he do with the future? He could be different.”

“It was accurate,” Haynes said.  “I had a tear when I finished it. I texted Kevin right afterward. I told him I couldn’t call him because I’m choked up so I texted him.”

So here’s two men who knew Payne Stewart, albeit in very different ways. They knew he was flawed in life but he got better. Was Payne Stewart that hero at Pinehurst, grabbing Phil Mickelson’s face and telling him the important thing is he’s going to be a father? Yes. But he was so much more than that. He was so much more than I knew before I read this book. Most importantly, Payne Stewart was always improving. A lesson for all of us, indeed.

If you want to hear more about my experience, tweet at me here @FWTXGolfer or message me on Instagram here! I look forward to hearing from you!

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The Gear Dive: Sam Bettinardi



In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with EVP of Bettinardi Golf, Sam Bettinardi. They discuss coming up as Bob’s son, the growth of the company, and why Bettinardi continues to be at the top of the putter conversations.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Sounding off on your favorite golf pet peeves!



Steve and Knudson weigh in on your favorite golf pet peeves. From not fixing ball marks, to slow play, to guys telling you “good shot” when you make a quad! Knudson shot a 33 in his league and still thinks he isn’t a sandbagger.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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19th Hole