FORT WORTH, Texas — Maybe it’s taken a three-month pandemic pause to tournament play and — a home game as the sport returns to competition — to lift Jordan Spieth out of his three-year-long funk.
This week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, the first PGA Tour event to be played since March, is at Colonial Country Club, a very familiar course for the native Texan Spieth.
It, too, is a tournament at which he’s had terrific success, winning in 2016, posting two runners-up finishes (2015 and 2017) and with five top-10 finishes in the seven times he’s played it. His career scoring averaged is 67.79.
Spieth has fallen from the penthouse to an abyss. Not long ago, he was the top-ranked golfer in the world seeking only a PGA Championship to complete the rare career grand slam. Now he’s No. 56 in the world rankings.
The word is that Spieth, with the benefit of the golf courses in the Dallas area not having closed during the COVID-19 crisis, has been playing a lot of golf and working overtime with his swing coach Cameron McCormick.
“I looked at (the pandemic pause) as a big-time opportunity for myself and didn’t take it lightly,” said Spieth, who has not won since the 2017 British Open. “I was certainly grateful for the time. Certainly it’s not a positive situation in general, but for me personally, I tried to look at how can I make this an advantage to myself.”
Fellow PGA Tour player and fellow Texan Ryan Palmer said he’s noticed Spieth “working hard on it,” adding, “I know he’s grinding away.”
Palmer should know. He’s a member at Colonial and has played with Spieth recently, including on Tuesday in a practice round.
“It just takes one day, one round, one tournament to all of a sudden, boom, he wins,” Palmer said. “There’s no doubt he’s going to win again for sure.”
For all he’s already accomplished, people forget that Spieth is only 26 years old. So this slump can quickly become a speck in his rearview mirror.
“It was a strong focal point of the last few months — how can I get better physically, mentally and within the mechanics of my golf game?” Spieth said. “It’s not something that clicks and all of a sudden you’re just automatically the best player in the world. It’s certainly a process. But creating the right little habits that get me back on track was a big emphasis during the last few months.”
One of the big goals on Spieth’s radar is the upcoming Ryder Cup, which is scheduled to be played in September. Spieth has played in the past three Ryder Cups and is currently 17th on the points list with the top six automatically on the team to go along with six captain’s picks.
“I certainly am on the outside looking in, so any kind of solid play through the end of this year (and) I could get myself into a position to get a pick,” he said. “I feel like I’m in control of my own destiny, which is great, but I’m on the outside looking in, which is a place that I haven’t been for Ryder Cups in the past.”