Spieth starts New Year with new mindset
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Jordan Spieth is no longer worried about criticism.
To be fair, finding ways to get down on an 11-time PGA TOUR winner who is already three legs through a career Grand Slam and owns a FedExCup title at the age of 24 is pretty tough as it is.
But the Texan used to get uptight about those who questioned him. He admits he used to let it get to him. He believes it affected his game.
When Spieth couldn’t back up a five-win 2015 with the same in 2016 some knives came out and he bristled.
When he coughed up a green jacket with a back nine implosion in 2016 it was as if his past deeds counted for very little to some and he was livid.
“That inhibited some success and inhibited confidence in my own game and my ability. Which it shouldn't have,” Spieth admits.
And he said it lasted around a year before he had an epiphany of sorts.
To many it appeared he might blow it again at The Open Championship 2017 and the pen quills were metaphorically sharpening amongst the many scribes in the sports world.
The social media trolls were ready to pounce.
But unbeknownst to most, Spieth had mentally turned the corner. He was believing in a new mantra. By then, he said, it didn’t matter as much what others thought.
So when things went pear-shaped at Royal Birkdale on Sunday and his mind raced to the Masters failure… well instead of letting it consume him, he embraced himself as the man in the arena.
He was ready to win. Or perhaps more importantly, he was ready to fail again. He was just ready. And out of nowhere he turned the corner and blitzed by Matt Kuchar late.
Spieth is by no means a history buff but the momentous words of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt from 1910 were the key.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
In other words – he will go down swinging because he’s not afraid to fail – and he doesn’t care what you think about that.
“It's like my favorite quote from all time,” Spieth explained as he gets set to play his first official event of the 2017-18 PGATOUR season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“I'm the one that's out there, that's putting it on the line every single week. I'm going to fail and learn and I'm going to succeed, but I'm the one in the arena.
“Starting 2018 I'm kind of ready for anything. I'm ready for failure, for success, and everything in between.”
The odds are on success.
In his last eight events of last season Spieth jagged two wins, two runner-ups and two sevenths in an impressive stretch.
He enters this week at the Plantation Course at Kapalua having finished second, first and third in his three previous starts on the island of Maui.
Oh and he’s recently had the pleasure of a successful proposal to long-time girlfriend Annie Verret.
“I'm just in a fantastic place compared to where I was (this time) last year,” he smiled.
And he’s not the only one in a good place as the new calendar year kicks off in a very exciting place on the PGA TOUR.
Justin Thomas is coming off a breakout year where he was FedExCup champion, crating a healthy rivalry with Spieth.
Multiple young winners have come of age giving us our youngest Tournament of Champions ever.
Other players in their 30s, like Justin Rose and Marc Leishman are hitting new primes.
Dustin Johnson still leads the world.
Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have points to prove.
Oh, and a guy named Tiger Woods is primed to make a comeback.
“These unknowns are extremely exciting starting out and within the next six months it's a pretty special time to be a part of professional golf,” Spieth says.
“I feel that way.”
We all do Jordan. We all do.