Spieth back to basics in PGA title bid

Jordan Spieth (AFP)
Jordan Spieth (AFP)

Springfield - Third-ranked Jordan Spieth has simplified his game to try and ease a season of frustrations and recapture the form for the PGA Championship that brought him two 2015 major titles.

Spieth, who turns 23 on Wednesday, squandered a five-shot lead on the back nine at Augusta National last April and let a Masters title slip through his fingers, literally putting the green jacket on England's Danny Willett.

He won in May at Colonial and shared third at the WGC event in Akron, but missed the cut at the Players Championship, settled for a share of 37th at the US Open and 30th at the British Open - inconsistent efforts he hopes to put behind him this week at Baltusrol in the year's final major.

"I don't think that I am a better player this year than I was last year," Spieth said. "I think I'm the same player, that I've just been getting a bit too frustrated on the golf course, at times.

"But recently, I've quickened my step. I've gotten back to kind of the 'gunslinger,' the way that I grew up playing, which is just step up and hit it. I went from over-dissecting shots to really feeling like less is more."

Spieth now has his eyes set on a career Grand Slam and he still lacks a Wanamaker Trophy from the PGA in his hardware collection.

"This would be a fantastic time to grab a third leg, still young," Spieth said.

"Golf is a game where you smack it, go up to the next one and smack it again and you count it up at the end. Simplifying things has really been the trend recently. It has really helped me. I'm actually trending very much in the right direction right now."

If Spieth wins on Sunday, he would be the youngest PGA Championship winner since Tom Creavy in 1931 at 20 years and seven months. The only younger was Gene Sarazen, who was almost two months younger when he won in 1922.

"I was pretty satisfied for quite a while and then you tee it up in the next major and then all of the sudden you have a chance to make history," Spieth said.

"That fuels you. Any major championship fuels you."

Spieth's eight titles before turning 23, one more than achieved by Tiger Woods, have helped him achieve some of his goals for this season. A win Sunday would add to that.

"I set my own expectations so high. So have I met them this year? Not yet," Spieth said. "I still can. I've improved from categories from last year I wanted to improve and other categories have diminished slightly.

"I'm hitting the ball further this year, which is really nice. I have more confidence in my mid- to long-iron play than I did last year. Short game has gone down just a bit. I'm working hard on it.

"Fortunately, having gone now through it, if I have to go through that kind of crescendo to maybe just a little bit of a valley, I feel like I've matured quite a bit this year as a person and player in trying to stay focused on my own goals and keep outside noise outside."

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