TROON, Scotland – In his four practice rounds leading up to The Open Championship, Jordan Spieth spent quite a bit of time chipping around the greens.
“Maybe I should have putted a bit more,” he said Saturday.
That’s because his usual prowess on the putting surface has been missing this week at Royal Troon. He has needed 91 putts through the first three rounds and that’s of the big reasons why the world’s No. 3-ranked player is not in contention for the Claret Jug this weekend.
Saturday’s third round exemplified his struggles on the greens. He missed four putts from inside 5 feet en route to a 1-over 72 that leaves him at 5 over for the tournament and with an early tee time for Sunday’s final round.
“Hitting the ball great (but) I’m just really struggling on the greens this week,” Spieth said. “That’s kind of rare … I’m just very uncomfortable right now with the putter in my hands on these greens.”
On the PGA Tour this season, Spieth ranks fifth in strokes gained: putting, the TOUR’s primary statistic for putting efficiency. Of course, that’s on fast greens, double-digits on the Stimpmeter. Here at Royal Troon, the greens are running much slower, about a 9.
Throw in the weather elements – Spieth was part of the crew with the bad end of the draw, especially on Friday – and he just hasn’t been able to make the adjustment.
“I’ve left everything short,” he said “My three-putts this week have been because the first putt is left short, and most all of my two-putts have been because I left it just short. Finding it very challenging.”
He’s even told himself not to leave any putts short, and so he adjusted by hitting it 1-2 feet faster than he really wants to. And still the ball is short of the hole.
At least there’s a small consolation.
“I don’t have four feet (left),” Spieth said. “At least it’s a foot short and I can tap it in.”
Going out early Saturday with nothing to lose, Spieth was able to make an early move. He birdied four of the first seven holes to get back to even par for the tournament. Even then, he said the stretch could have been better if his putter had cooperated. “Really easily could have shot 7 under on that front nine,” he said.
Once he left Troon’s scoring holes, he quickly gave all the strokes back with bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10 and a double on the hardest hole of the course, the par-4 11th.
He has one round left at Troon, but his mind is already drifting to the PGA Championship in two weeks at Baltusrol.
“I’m hitting it great,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the way I’m striking the ball, especially in these conditions. Just can’t quite get it in the hole.
“I guess some weeks that happens.”