Jordan Spieth and Jason Day trying to regain 2015 magic
LA JOLLA, Calif. — Remember 2015.
This is what both Jordan Spieth and Jason Day should be thinking right now as they try to navigate their respective ways from the wilderness in which they have found themselves for the past couple of years.
They should never forget what elevated them to the pinnacle of the golf world just shy of five years ago.
Spieth and Day won five times apiece that year, and both spent time as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open, finished one shot out of a playoff in the British Open, was runner-up at the PGA Championship and was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Day won the PGA, led the U.S. Open through 54 holes despite collapsing on the course with vertigo in the second round and also finished a shot out of a playoff in the British. In the PGA, he staved off Spieth in a scintillating final-round duel at Whistling Straits. Four of Day’s wins that year came in a molten-hot six-tournament stretch.
That all seems like a long time ago for the two elite players, who were paired together for the first two rounds of the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday and Friday at Torrey Pines.
But the past two days have represented baby-step progress for both players, who finished the second round at 4-under, six shots off the lead held by Ryan Palmer at 10-under.
Day, who was in danger of missing the cut after his 1-over opening round on the South Course, shot a 5-under 67 on Friday. Spieth actually played better on the more-difficult South Course on Thursday than he did Friday, posting a second consecutive 2-under round.
Day is currently ranked 44th in the world, and Spieth 45th. Pending the final results of this weekend on the Torrey Pines South Course, they face the possibility of falling outside the world top 50 for the first time since they initially joined the top 50 (Day in 2010 and Spieth in 2013).
“I didn’t realize I was that far down, to be honest,’’ Day said of his ranking. “[But] I’m not worried about the world ranking. I need to focus on just getting healthy and trying to be 100 percent confident in what I can actually do ability-wise. I know that all it takes is good play to get back [up] there pretty quick. You win a couple times on the West Coast, and you’re kind of near back to the top 10.’’
The two stars took different paths to their declines.
Day’s issues have included back problems, a change of caddies and the health of his mother, who had lung cancer.
“I need to take the excuses out of my life,” Day said. “And we have started to do that. I felt like I was alone on an island for a while, but the team aspect feels better again now. Maybe the biggest positive is it’s the first time in a long time the things I am doing rehab-wise feeling like I’m getting to the right spot. And the same with my swing.
“If I can focus on that and feel healthy … the confidence will come back. And then when I can practice more, I’m sure the results will come also, as those other issues won’t be in the back of my mind.”
Spieth has tinkered with his swing and, most importantly, lost his putting prowess, which was his greatest power. When he was at his best, it seemed as if Spieth made every significant putt he looked at.
In 2018, he ranked 123rd in strokes gained putting. In 2015, he was ninth, and in 2016, he was second. From 2015-18, Spieth ranked in the top 50 in strokes gained off the tee, but he fell to 176th last season.
“I still have some work, hopefully not very significant work, but I’m on the right track in my swing to get to where I feel I can be at that 2015 level again,’’ Spieth said. “I want it as bad or more than I did then. There is no complacency. And I believe the next run will be as fun as the first.”
Remembering how it was done in 2015 can’t hurt either player as they try to recapture the magic.
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