Jordan Spieth says he’s never hit a better shot. 1 talk inspired it

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth earlier this month at the Sentry event.

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What Jordan Spieth believes is his best-ever shot? You’ve probably seen it. The 6-iron, walking-while-it-was-in-the-air near-ace on the 14th at Royal Birkdale during the 2017 Open Championship’s final round. It started a mesmerizing stretch that won him a Claret Jug. 

Of course, you’ve more than likely watched one of Spieth’s strangest strokes. You knew that was coming. The shot came just a hole earlier, from the tee on the 13th, where he went right and chaos followed. Minutes ticked away as Spieth navigated after hitting into cabbage, on the side of a hill. He eventually dropped — on the driving range. Somehow, he managed a bogey, and he was down a stroke, to Matt Kuchar.

Whew. What a turn. But you wonder: Did anything happen in between? Maybe you’ve heard this, maybe not — it’s coming up on seven years now — but the story is good, and there could be a takeaway or two. 

But yeah, after the 13th, Spieth says he walked into a Birkdale restroom. And stepped out a new man. 

He was talking on the latest On the Mark podcast — which you can listen to in full here — and he’d been sharing detail on the 13th with host Mark Immelman, a longtime analyst and instructor. Spieth said he was spiraling. He walked into a nearby portalet. 

He talked, to himself, a Spieth-on-Spieth conversation. 

Deep breath. 

“And I remember actually being in there and being like, all right, look, you lost it, but you’re only down one, there’s nobody else around, it’s just him that you’re playing against, and you can beat him by two shots on these last five holes,” Spieth said on the podcast. 

“Like, I — when we talk about some of my best stretches of golf I’ve ever played, the summer of 2017 was a ridiculous stretch of golf for me — I mean, I was finishing first or second, taking three weeks off, winning the Open and losing in a playoff, finishing second; like there was maybe six or seven events where five or six of those I finished second or first in a row. 

“So, in other words, my confidence level in my game was not thrown off by one terrible tee shot that I hit. I’m playing really well. It started to rain a little, I made a mistake — not committing to a shot, caught a little water ball; this is what I’m telling myself in my head; whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter — let’s step up and hit a good iron shot and just try to have a putt to win each hole. 

“And I remember thinking about that all the while I’m in there. 

“And I stepped out of there and I probably hit the best shot I would say that I ever hit to this day, was the 6-iron I hit on 14. 

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“Once I’d won that hole, I said, I got this guy, and the rest is history.”

Indeed. But there’s possibly a question here, right? This story is not to suggest that should you take a restroom break, you’ll suddenly break par. Spieth triggered something. 

Immelman made this point. 

“In a weird sort of way, it’s like you manifest destiny,” he said. “And that’s what’s cool about it because again, if folks who’ve ever watched Jordan play, you get this look about you. And it’s almost to me like the Tom Brady sets in, and then you go about doing what you got to do and you’re not ahead, you’re not behind, you’re just right where you are. 

“And that’s so crucial to good golf.”

Spieth expanded on his thought. 

Experience helps. Belief snowballs. We’ll end this story with how he got there. 

“Yeah, I think just having experienced a lot of stuff by that time,” Spieth said on the podcast. “Experience kind of helps you create those perspectives. Stuff’s going to happen. Stuff can happen. It can be clean. But when stuff happens, what’s the point in dragging it on if you still have more holes left, right. … 

“So the ‘16 Masters, I got to 13 tee and Smylie Kaufman will tell you, I asked him — he made a two, and I made a seven, and we got to the tee and I said, who’s tee is it, to Smylie. And he was in shock. He had no idea what to even say. And my point in even saying that is like, look, I mean, it happened, I have six holes left, I can play them a few under and have a chance to win. I think I played them two maybe, and I did have a chance to win. It wasn’t just at the Open there.

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“I had experienced stuff like that, where it’s like, look, stuff happened, what are you going to do? And if you still have golf left, then you may as well be trying to hit every shot where you’re looking and every putt where you’re looking, just like I tried to do before [and] it just didn’t work out, but doesn’t mean it won’t now. 

“Simplifying things to where — this was before I struggled for a couple of years and I actually really learned what it was like to get out of kind of ego-driven golf and into mastery-driven golf and what that meant and how to define that and how to work that into my life and golf. But I felt like, the bigger the moment, the bigger the kind of potential to go one way, I kind of was always able to calm myself down and the uncomfortable, get more comfortable in a weird way. And it worked once, it didn’t work another time, and I’ve had plenty of times in between where it — it’s just the game, so sometimes I’ll play really, really well on the back end of something and it doesn’t work out, [and] sometimes I’ll play a little less good and I win. It just depends on how the other guys around you did.” 

Said Immelman: “Yeah, I love that ego-driven versus mastery-driven.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the entire podcast with Spieth, please click here.

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