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‘Nothing to Lose’ - Jordan Spieth

July 24, 2017

For anyone reading Sunday night’s headlines, Jordan Spieth’s victory at The (British) Open golf tournament came as no surprise. After all, he had played flawless golf in the first 3 rounds and entered Round 4 with a 3-shot lead over fellow American, Matt Kuchar, and a gazillion-shot lead over everyone else. But those who watched all 18 holes of the 4th round were treated to a roller-coaster ride of epic proportions.


To understand how did Jordan Spieth lost his big lead, then managed to recover and pull off a 3-stroke victory against a very competitive opponent, one needs to retrace Spieth’s recent history in two other major golf tournaments – the 2017 U.S. Open and the 2016 Masters.


2017 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP.    One month ago, Jordan Spieth was 4 over par entering Day 4 of the 2017 U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills, Wisconsin. He had just shot a 76 in Round 3 and trailed the eventual winner, Brooks Koepka, by 15 strokes. It certainly looked like this major golf tournament was, yet, another lost outing for Spieth. [There are 4 major golf tournaments: The Masters in April, The U.S. Open in June, The (British) Open in July, The PGA Championship in August.]  Was Jordan Spieth ever going to overcome his epic meltdown at the 2016 Masters, when he blew a 5-stroke lead with just 7 holes remaining in the 72-hole tournament?


Yes, and it all began with Round 4 of the 2017 U.S. Open. Jordan Spieth shot a 3-under par 69 to end up tied for 35th place in the tournament - which, on the face of it was a good score, but nothing outstanding. But to Spieth, Round 4 was a rousing “success.” He later explained that he felt no pressure to perform – was liberated, if you will - because he had “nothing to lose.”


Jordan Spieth continued his "success" one week later, by winning The Travelers Golf Tournament – though not without some drama. On the final day, having lost his lead over the field - he bogeyed the 12th and 14th holes - Jordan Spieth found himself in a playoff against Daniel Berger. At that point it was anybody's tournament. But in what’s now ‘typical Spieth fashion’, Jordan Spieth holed a 30-yard bunker shot on the first playoff hole to win.


2017 (BRITISH) OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP.   Fast forward to Sunday and Jordan Spieth bogeyed 3 of the first four holes, and he lost his outright lead. Later in the round, after shooting his 5th bogey of the day - on a crazy 13th hole [see businessinsider] - Spieth found himself in second place behind Matt Kuchar. The importance of that moment could not be understated.


Having spent 3-1/2 rounds at the top of this most major of major tournaments, Jordan Spieth now reverted to "the hunter, rather than the hunted." The freedom liberated him, and he once again returned to form. Spieth proceeded to shoot 5-under par golf over the final 5 holes, to win “going away.” And Jordan Spieth, who rarely minces words or hides his emotions or frailties, said this about his recovery:


“As you can imagine thoughts come in from the last major when I was leading on a Sunday.”

“Once I lost my lead completely and we were tied I felt the nerves go away until I got the lead again and they were back.”


Watch out, golf world. Jordan Spieth has discovered the secret to his new-found successes.