‘No freaking clue where it was going to go:’ Jordan Spieth fights golf swing to runner-up finish

Jordan Spieth yells at a tee shot on Sunday.

Jordan Spieth couldn't hold his 54-hole lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

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When Jordan Spieth was in the midst of his struggles, like at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he was brutally honest with the state of his game.

“Standing on a tee at the U.S. Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling,” Spieth told reporters after an opening-round 73. He would miss the cut. “I know you guys probably haven’t experienced that before, but it’s not incredibly enjoyable.”

He’s turned things around since — eight top 10s in his past 11 starts, including a win — but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to bad days. Like, on Sunday, for example, when he held a one-stroke lead through 54 holes at the Charles Schwab Challenge but shot a three-over 73 and lost to Jason Kokrak by two.

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“I was taking the club back and had no freaking clue where it was going to go,” Spieth said. “It’s very rare that you’re in the lead or close to the lead on a Sunday when that’s the case, and it’s not the most enjoyable feeling, but I’ve never been shy on grit, and really belief, in knowing that anything can happen. It was with me till the end, until the shot came off left on 18. So just really just didn’t play well. That’s all it was. I played a bad round of golf.”

Spieth and Kokrak were tied at the turn, but Kokrak made birdies on 11 and 13 to lead by two. After both players bogeyed 15, Kokrak added another on 16 and the lead was just one as both players teed off on the par-4 18th hole. Spieth drove it in the right rough, caught a flier lie and hit it into the water long and left of the green. He made bogey, and Kokrak two-putted to win.

“It was going to jump so I needed to land in a pretty small section of the green to have a chance, and I just didn’t hold the face enough and it just closed over and obviously when it’s going to jump, it’s going to fly forever,” Spieth said. “There’s only one shot to hit there, whether I’m up five or down five or tied and it’s a hard one. That’s why they cut fairways, it’s a lot easier to play out of there.”

Despite Spieth’s grim assessment of his play, his stats prove he actually wasn’t that bad. He was just inconsistent over the weekend. He was 16th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee for the week, but 64th out of 75 on Saturday. He hit 7 of 14 fairways (T54) on Sunday and was seventh in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (1.018), but then he struggled attacking greens. He hit only eight and lost 2.285 strokes to the field in the final round, which ranked him 68th.

“I didn’t play well at all quite simply,” he said. “I could have shot even par today and won the golf tournament, but from the very get-go, just a really bad start, and then tried to fight my way through it. But I was just really off with my golf swing. And then I’ve been striking the ball beautifully this year and I just have to hit the reset button tomorrow and get to work the next couple days.”

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.