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What’s ‘grind mode’ like for a PGA Tour player? Jordan Spieth explains

May 9, 2019

Jordan Spieth is used to these types of questions now. How do you explain the lull? Are you frustrated?

Spieth, to his credit, has answered these to the best of his ability while being in an unSpieth-like drought for the last year or so. He hasn’t recorded a top 10 since the 2018 British Open and has just two top 25s in 12 starts this year.

On Wednesday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Spieth, the hometown favorite, was asked a few more of these questions when he met with the media. One question was what it was like to be in “grind mode” — not getting the results but putting in the work.

Here’s how Spieth broke it down.

1. It’s frustrating…

…but don’t take it home with you. Spieth said it’s not unusual for pros to take rough tournament rounds or practice days home, but it’s something you shouldn’t do. A little separation from the game doesn’t hurt.

2. Embrace the struggle

Spieth said he’s done a good job of embracing the challenge ahead. He knows he can turn it around. “I have no doubt in my abilities and myself and it’s simply mechanical and it’s something that is just difficult for me to do,” he said. That confidence is important.

3. Forget past results

Spieth said he needs to forget about comparing his game to other years. In 2015 he set the golf world on fire and won five times (and had 15 top 10s in 25 starts), but that’s where comparisons can go wrong. He says he actually hit the ball better in 2017, when he won the British Open and two other events. “That’s been the toughest thing for me,” he said. “I have all my videos of my swing of ’17, it looks similar. What’s different is you start to figure out what it is and you have to kind of embrace the work and the timeliness that it takes.”

After this week, Spieth heads to Long Island for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he can complete the career grand slam. In 2017 and 2018 there was more hype around his PGA prospects, but that’s likely to rev up next week. Besides, after Tiger Woods won the Masters he’s been the talk of the golf world since April.

“I like the choice of golf course and certainly I think I’ll be flying in under the radar compared to previous years just based on kind of the results of the last year or so,” Spieth said. “But I don’t mind that.”

As for an added incentive at the PGA? How about one-upping Phil Mickelson. There are three active players who are one major away from capturing the career grand slam: Rory McIlroy (Masters), Mickelson (U.S. Open) and Spieth (PGA). Now with the schedule change and the PGA moving from August to May, Spieth has the chance to accomplish the feat before Mickelson.

“It would be pretty cool bragging rights to try to complete the slam before Phil,” Spieth said. “Not many people get bragging rights on Phil Mickelson. It would be pretty awesome to do. Kind of cool to get that chance before him.”