2019 PGA Championship: Jordan Spieth’s putting has been on fire — here’s how he’s doing it

May 17, 2019
Jordan Spieth reads a putt during Friday's second round of the PGA Championship.

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Jordan Spieth looked like the player of a few years ago on Friday at Bethpage Black. He didn’t hit the ball that great — through two rounds, he ranks 59th and and 77th in SG Driving and Approach, respectively — but the three-time major champ has been on fire on the greens.

Through the same two rounds, Spieth ranks first in the field, gaining more than seven shots on his fellow competitors in the process. After his round, Spieth gave a short but rather enlightening explanation for why his putter is running so hot.

“I’ve really cleared my setup, especially inside of 10, 12 feet,” said Spieth, who shot a four-under 66 and is five under overall. “I feel more comfortable. My eyes are seeing where the putter is pointed so I can be reactive to the correct line. It seems easy, but when that gets off, golf is pretty difficult and that’s where I’ve been the last year and a half.”

The key phrase here is Spieth talking about being “reactive” to the right line, which has always been a big key for him. As I wrote about earlier this year, Spieth has a tendency to freeze up over some of his putts, especially his shorter ones. When he’s putting his best, he’s constantly moving and fidgeting right up until the moment he pulls the trigger. He’s getting all that nervous energy out before “reacting” to the line.

And on Friday at the PGA, that’s exactly what Spieth was doing. There’s no sense of hesitation or tenseness. He keeps moving until he pulls the trigger. It’s his recipe for pouring in putts from every distance.

Spieth has set a high bar for his putting through 36 holes of the championship, and some natural regression to the mean is to be expected. His ball striking will need to improve slightly along the way, but if he keeps putting like this, no lead from Brooks Koepka is safe.