It was the last reminder of how quickly form and conditions can change, especially on a link course. It was also a reminder of what’s left of a brain golf game.
Spieth knows this too well. He looked set for a long run at the top of the game when he managed to win 10 tournaments over three seasons, becoming the second youngest Masters champion – behind Tiger Woods – in 2015 and reaching No.1 in the world rankings. . He won the British Open at the Royal Birkdale in 2017.
He couldn’t maintain that momentum and fell to No. 82 in the standings at the end of 2020, but he resurfaced this season, recording eight top 10s, tying third at the Masters and winning the Valero Texas Open.
“Golf is a game played between the ears, isn’t it?” he said Thursday. “When things don’t go well, you can certainly lose some confidence in him. It was the first time that I really had to try to regain my confidence, and it takes time. It’s an obvious combination of figuring things out mechanically, but also putting them to the test and mentally stepping up with enough oomph to go ahead and hit a few hits. This is how you build confidence using this improvement I think physically on the course under pressure. In no way do I feel like I’m where I want to be again mechanically, but this year has been a very, very good progress for me. “
At 27, Spieth is back at No. 23 in the table and rising, although he may face different conditions when he plays later today on Friday.
The top three golfers in the standings all started Thursday morning: Oosthuizen, Spieth and American Brian Harman, who also shot a 65. At this point the fairways and greens were smoother and more responsive, but not everyone has not prospered.
Bryson DeChambeau, one of Spieth’s playmates, tried to deploy his prodigious length off the tee to his advantage, but repeatedly found the rough. He only touched four of the 14 fairways and expressed his displeasure with his driver rather than his tactics. He finished with five bogeys and four birdies and a 1 in 71.