Jordan Spieth Struggles to 4-Over 76 in Round 1 of Players Championship 2019

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

Jordan Spieth blasts from the trap on the eighth hole during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Jordan Spieth came into The Players Championship hoping to turn his 2019 season around.

He'll leave needing to play well Friday to avoid being cut.

Spieth carded a four-over 76 in Thursday's first round, putting him in a tie for 130th and 11 strokes off the pace set by leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley.

The round was a microcosm of Spieth's season, featuring horrid drives, misses on easy putts and a languishing look of frustration from a guy trying to figure things out. Spieth has not finished any higher than 35th in a PGA Tour event this season and has not won on tour since the 2017 Open Championship.

"If it's a mini-slump, you usually just have to go through a checklist of the things you're doing and see where the problem is," Adam Scott recently said of Spieth's slump, per  of Golf Digest. "Don't panic because most of the time, it isn't that hard. The major slump is different. You have to be willing to drill deep, to go to your core, strip yourself down as a player and as a person. Sometimes when you do that you're going to find things you really don't want to find. The game can be so tough mentally, which is why it can be difficult to dig yourself out of a major slump."

Spieth has dipped all the way to 25th in the World Golf Ranking and has looked like a player far worse than No. 25 in the world this season. Barring a strong second round, Spieth will miss his third cut of the 2019 season; his last top-10 came in the 2018 Open Championship, more than seven months ago.

Playing in one of the final groups of the day, Spieth narrowly missed a birdie on No. 1 and then fell completely off the map on his front nine. He bogeyed the par-five second after an ugly drive into the trees, doubled the par-four fifth after needing to take a penalty after hitting his approach into the dirt path and then made the turn at 40 after back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9.

The back nine brought far better luck, with Spieth birdieing Nos. 10 and 11 to get back to two over for the day. Trading bogey-birdie on No. 14 and No. 16 left Spieth at two over on the day heading to the final tee, still below the cut line but manageably within distance.

Then things once again fell apart.

Spieth smacked his drive into the water and then his drop shot into the rough, forcing him to attempt to get up and down for bogey—a putt he missed by all of about two feet. He tapped in for his second double of the round, going into the clubhouse with only six players carding a worse score.

Spieth concluded the day hitting just 35.7 percent of his fairways, barely over half of his greens in regulation and losing nearly a full stroke on the green by the PGA Tour's strokes gained metric. He's going to need a big day Friday to have any chance of making the weekend. 

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