Jordan Spieth and TPC Sawgrass are not friends. They haven’t been since his tie for fourth in his debut in 2014. On Sunday, Spieth earned his first top-20 at the Players since that maiden trip on the Stadium Course. But for a three-time major winner, it’s a relatively poor record that, at least until next year, will continue.
But, boy, was it entertaining this week.
Spieth capped the 2023 Players with an even-par 72 to finish tied for 19th at six-under, a distant 11 shots behind winner and fellow Dallas resident Scottie Scheffler. Then, Spieth fired off this brilliant line.
“You get Sawgrassed sometimes,” Spieth said. The 29-year-old was talking about a bad break in the greenside bunker on the par-5 11th in the final round. But getting “Sawgrassed” speaks to his roller-coaster week.
On Friday, Spieth sat at two-over and on the cutline playing the par-5 ninth (his 18th) when he blocked his drive toward the water. It ricocheted off the knee of a US Marine and into the fairway. Spieth muscled a fairway metal up to the greenside rough and chipped in for eagle. Then, he had that Marine, 47-year-old Lt Col Matt Cutler, hang around for the weekend to watch the golf.
Spieth made the cut, shot 66 Saturday to get somewhat in the mix before a final round featuring three birdies and as many bogeys. In his seven Players starts since that impressive debut, Spieth had missed the cut five times — with a best finish of T-41 before this week.
“It’s a tough track. A top-25 for me out here feels like a win anywhere else,” Spieth said. “It’s just my history. I was kind of half-kidding, but my history here isn’t great.”
But why does Spieth play poorly at TPC Sawgrass? Out of his 26 rounds, only 11 have been under par. Granted, it’s a tough course that usually ranks in the teens for demanding courses on the PGA Tour. On that question, 13-time PGA Tour winner Spieth gave the most Spieth answer.
“I just don’t play with a lot of discipline, and I didn’t today,” he said. “I thought I should have birdied 10 and 11, and so I get on 12, and instead of just bailing out right in the collection area and making birdie, I’m trying to hit a driver on the green and make the birdie easier, have a chance at eagle, and I hit one in the water. I just do that every single year here. [On] 11, I did everything right; there happened to not be any sand in the bunker, so it bounced, and I end up making par.
“You get Sawgrassed sometimes. Actually, every round everyone gets Sawgrassed to an extent … something quirky happens. But my aggressive nature and inability to accept sometimes not making birdie when I thought I was going to, makes me make too many mistakes on a course that you can’t get away with it.”
Spieth now can look ahead to Augusta National next month — where he does have a glittering record. In addition to his 2015 Masters victory, Spieth has two second-place finishes and two thirds.
“[I’m] playing well … I got a couple more weeks [on the PGA Tour] before I got ready for the Masters,” he said.