Here’s why Jordan Spieth isn’t winning, according to Smylie Kaufman

Jordan Spieth is not having the 2024 season he would have liked, but one of his good friends thinks he knows why.

Before Spieth caught fire Saturday at TPC Deere Run, making eight birdies in his first 12 holes and finishing with a 63 to vault into contention at the John Deere Classic, he hadn’t shot that low on the PGA Tour in nearly a year.

After recording three top-10s earlier in the year, he hasn’t finished better than T29 since he missed the cut at the Masters in April. He’s fallen out of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking and currently is outside the all-important top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings, which would make him exempt for all of next year’s Signature Events.

Jordan Spieth reacts to a shot during the John Deere Classic.
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It’s really the second-straight season of poor form from the three-time major champ after he’s failed to win since the 2022 RBC Heritage and vanished during the Ryder Cup. This is after two resurgent seasons in 2021 and 2022 after ending a four-year winless drought.

On this week’s episode of GOLF Subpar, Spieth’s good friend and NBC broadcaster Smylie Kaufman dished on Spieth’s run of poor form to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.

“It’s funny, right? Because if you go and look at the stats, you get confused because if you would have supplanted his driving ability this year, in any other year, he’s winning,” Kaufman said.

He explained that Spieth is having somewhat of an opposite statistical year to what his career has been. He’s typically driven the ball all over the place while leaning on his creativity with his irons and wedges to score. This year, Spieth is 16th in strokes gained: off-the-tee, but 110th in SG: Approach and 80th in putting.

“He’s always been able to lean on his wedge game, his short game and his iron game,” Kaufman said. “His putting was good to start the year, but his putting lately has really tailed off and now he’s got an iron and wedge game that’s just mediocre from his standards.

Smylie Kaufman and Rickie Fowler wait to tee off on the 15th hole during the first round of The Barclays at Bethpage State Park (Black) on August 25, 2016 in Farmingdale, New York.
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“I keep wanting to believe that one week it’s all just going to come together. But when you have so many things that are just slightly off, it’s it seems like he pushes a little bit too much on some days to try to make something happen, instead of just letting the tournament come to him and letting his game come to him.”

Knost recalled when Spieth was winning majors he was more of an artist with his shotmaking and Kaufman agreed that Spieth needed to get back to more of that.

Then Kaufman explained the potential that Spieth’s focus on improving his driving has indirectly harmed his approach game.

“Maybe there’s a correlation too, when you make swing changes, you start hitting it further, sometimes there’s a driver swing the guys have and there’s sometimes there’s an iron swing the guys have,” he said. “And I think he’s kind of caught a little bit in between.”

For more from Kaufman, check out the full Subpar episode below.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at