SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. a�� With the cut number in his head and the putter in his hands, Jordan Spieth took dead aim on a couple of weekend rounds.
As he took the club back, the rare silence surrounding the ninth hole at TPC Scottsdale in Fridaya��s second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open was shattered by a fan who yelled he had a bet on the outcome of the putt.
The fan lost the bet a�� and was escorted from the premises. And Spieth, thrown by the outburst, fell one shot short of his quest to play the final two rounds when his attempt from 25 feet stopped inches short. That put him outside the cutline and thinking about what might have been after rounds of 72-70 left him at even par through 36 holes.
After the round, he found some peace in the locker room and spent a long time thinking about the past two days.
a�?I havena��t been playing very well,a�? Spieth said. a�?I didna��t drive the ball very well and I didna��t putt well. Ia��ve just been working on some things that take time, unfortunately, in tournament rounds.a�?
Right now, Spieth said, he is a work in progress ahead of his title defense next week in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which he won by four last year.
The worlda��s No. 3 player has played just four times in four months. After a grueling 2017 in which he won three tournaments, including his third major championship in the British Open, made a gallant run at his second FedExCup title and played on the victorious Presidents Cup team, Spieth knew he was going to take a lot of time off to rest, relax and reload for 2018.
What he didna��t anticipate was a December battle with mononucleosis. He was bedridden for days and then the illness lingered for the better part of two weeks, severely limiting his offseason prep work in the gym and on the golf course. While he did finish ninth in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and in a tie for 18th in the Sony Open, he wasna��t 100% a�� health-wise and golf-wise.
a�?I just need more reps,a�? said Spieth, who will also play the Genesis Open the week after Pebble Beach. a�?At the beginning of the year I thought I had a lot of work to do to get ready for Augusta, to get my game to an ‘A’ level for the Masters. Some years my ‘A’A�game is already there at the start of the year.
a�?But because of all the time I took off a�� all the time I was sick in bed and the other times I was actually taking time off a�� Ia��ve started way behind.
a�?Ita��s still frustrating when Ia��m out there, but Ia��m giving myself some leeway. Ia��m starting to see what the problem areas are in tournament play and where Ia��ll put all the time and effort to get right.a�?
Spieth said he doesna��t want to a�?kick myselfa�? too hard after this week but he knows he has to kick in his work with the driver and putter. He made just six birdies in 36 holes, mostly because he was scrambling from tee to green. But true to Spietha��s nature, he grinded until the very end and continued searching for solutions heading into next week.
a�?I just love those golf courses,a�? Spieth said of the three tracks used next week, including the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links. a�?The weather forecast is great. And ita��s totally different from here. There, the ball goes way shorter than youa��re used to. What was really good for me last year was that I got really dialed in taking three-quarter shots because playing off that turf into those greens, a lot of times you want to take spin off.
a�?I have a lot of confidence up there. Now I just have to dial in my game.a�?