Jordan Spieth Makes the Most of a Mercurial British Open Course
It was the latest reminder of how quickly form and conditions can shift, particularly on a links course. It was also a reminder of what a cerebral game golf remains.
Spieth knows it too well. He looked ready for a long run at the top of the game when he broke through 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 Royal Birkdale in 2017.
He could not sustain that momentum and dropped to No. 82 in the rankings at the end of 2020, but he has been resurgent this season, recording eight top-10 finishes, tying for third at the Masters and winning the Valero Texas Open.
“Golf is a game played between the ears, right?” he said on Thursday. “When it’s not going great, you can certainly lose quite a bit of confidence in it. That was the first time I’ve had to really try and build confidence back up, and it takes time. It’s a combination of obviously getting things figured out mechanically but also then putting it to the test and mentally stepping up with enough oomph to go ahead and pull off some shots. That’s how you build the confidence is using that improvement I think physically on the course under pressure. By no means do I feel like I’m where I want to be mechanically yet, but this year has been a really, really good progression for me.”
At age 27, Spieth is back up to No. 23 in the rankings and rising, although he may have to face different conditions when he plays later in the day on Friday.
The top three golfers on the leader board all started Thursday morning: Oosthuizen, Spieth and the American Brian Harman, who also shot a 65. At that stage, the fairways and greens were softer and more receptive, but not everyone thrived.
Bryson DeChambeau, one of Spieth’s playing companions, tried to deploy his prodigious length off the tee to his advantage but repeatedly found the rough. He hit only four of 14 fairways and expressed discontent with his driver rather than his tactics. He finished with five bogeys and four birdies and a 1-over 71.