Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth sees this week’s Ryder Cup as a way to jump-start his 2019 campaign after a struggling season in which he failed to reach last week’s Tour Championship.
The 25-year-old American hasn’t won since capturing last year’s British Open title, his best showing this year a third-place effort at the Masters.
But 10th-ranked Spieth, also the 2015 Masters and US Open winner, could lift his spirits by helping the US team keep the Ryder Cup when the biennial battle with Europe is renewed Friday at France’s Le Golf National.
“I look at this week as very important going forward for next season,” Spieth said.
“If I came out and played really solid golf this week, I would feel like I accomplished a lot this year. I would feel like I went to places where I needed to build back up and learn a lot from my own game.”
Spieth made his Cup debut in 2014 at Gleneagles under the pressure of chanting, singing hecklers.
“Ryder Cup is a situation where you’re playing almost every hole with the same feel as you get on a major championship Sunday in contention,” he said. “So to be able to put those to test, and if I can do so successfully, I’ll feel like I gained a lot out of it.”
Spieth comes into the event having taken a week off and worked out while teammates were at the Tour Championship, a US PGA playoff event he just missed after a poor showing at the BMW Championship.
“I took Tour Championship week to slowly progress each day, do a little bit more, and I was progressing nicely,” Spieth said.
“My game was in the best state that it had been in until BMW and I kind of just ran out of gas there. But I was able to get that rest.”
Spieth will have an early chance to do so, with plans to play in some fall events the next two months.
“I love where Jordan is actually right now,” US captain Jim Furyk said. “He brings so much to the team room as a leader. For his age, he’s very mature, and all those guys kind of his age group, when Jordan speaks, everyone seems to listen.
“Having a week off, having some fresh legs, a fresh mind, he’s probably champing at the bit right now. He’s probably ready to go this week and I think it would be a real good week for him.”
Spieth called his 2014 tee shot at Gleneagles “probably the most nerve-wracking tee shot I’ve ever hit” and expects another tough one this week with 7,000 fans at the first tee.
“We’ll hear the Europe chants and the Ole! Ole! Ole! chants on the driving range whenever we’re teeing off an hour ahead of time,” Spieth said. “And this tee shot’s as difficult a first tee shot as we’ve probably played the entire season. That adds to it.”
He’ll need accuracy as well as his trademark distance to be sure.
“Tee balls are key here,” Spieth said. “If you miss the fairway, you’re likely not going to be able to hold the green, and with a lot of greens surrounded by water, you’re actually having to really kind of almost lay up out of the rough.”
Spieth expects some par celebrations this week instead of birdie binges that were enjoyed in the US 2014 win at Hazeltine.
“I don’t think you’ll go anywhere else where you’ll see as many fist-pump pars as you’ll see this week,” Spieth said.
“I don’t think there will be as many roars. There were a lot of putts made at Hazeltine from six to 30 feet. You just won’t see that many birdie opportunities because if you miss the fairway, you’re fighting for par.”
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)