NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa (AP) — Jordan Spieth shed a little insight on his expectations at the beginning of 2016 when he said his goals start with winning and include “being there” with a chance in a couple of major championships.
Two years later, he failed to win on the PGA Tour for the second time in six seasons. He was there with a chance at two majors, coming from nine back in the final round at the Masters to within one shot of the lead until a bogey on the 18th hole for a 64. At the British Open, he had a three-way share of the lead in the final round, fell back with bad swings and never caught up at Carnoustie.
The disappointment was missing the Tour Championship for the first time.
“I was in control of my own destiny and didn’t have it this week,” said Spieth, the only player from the top 10 in the world who won’t be at East Lake.
It didn’t help that Spieth, for the second straight season, sat out the entire fall portion of the PGA Tour schedule. Setting him back even further was missing nearly an entire month with mononucleosis.
That means he will fall short of the minimum 25 tournaments required for those who didn’t add to the schedule an event they haven’t played in four years. Still to be determined is the punishment. This policy falls under a “major penalty”, which comes with at least a USD20,000 fine and a suspension of more than three tournaments, although the commissioner has the ultimate say and any suspension will not be in play.
It makes no sense to punish a player who is guilty of not playing enough tournaments by making him sit out even more.
More than money, what really hits home for a player like Spieth is time.
One option would be to increase the number of new events, and that might not be a problem. Even before Spieth was in jeopardy of missing the Tour Championship, he was contemplating adding as many as two North American stops in the fall. Spieth is getting married after the fall season and is like to pass on overseas travel this year.
That also would solve the problem of not starting a new year feeling as though he were behind. A tournament or two in the fall would give him a chance to make sure the new year starts in Hawaii.
Spieth could use a fresh start.
First, he has the Ryder Cup in France, in which he will not have competed in two weeks. More than not winning this year, Spieth was rarely close. In the 17 stroke-play events that he made the cut, he finished an average of 9.6 strokes out of the lead.
Cameron Smith is at the top of the Presidents Cup standings for the International team. Perhaps even more surprising is to see Thai players Thanyakorn Khrongpha and Rattanon Wannasrichan among the top eight automatic qualifiers.
Worth noting, however, is that along with giving the International team four captain’s picks for the December 2019 matches in Melbourne, Australia, the qualifications for the International team have been changed. Instead of taking the top players from the world ranking, the International team will be decided by world ranking points earned from the Dell Technologies Championship two weeks ago through the Tour Championship next August.
Thanyakorn won the ISPS Handa Match Play on the Japan Golf Tour. Rattanon won the consolation match.
Progress vs Results
Adam Scott missed the Tour Championship for the third time in the last four years, though he at least had a chance. He wasn’t even guaranteed to make the playoffs until a third-place finish in the PGA Championship, followed by a tie for fifth in The Northern Trust.
It did wonders for his confidence. And it started with seeing his name on the leaderboard.
“The game is not very different. But a result, when you’re in a results-driven industry, means so much,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to fool yourself: ‘It’s about the process, it’s the process, the process.’ Well, after like six months, the process needs to yield some results. I was at that point. I needed a result.”
The next step is winning, which he hasn’t done since back-to-back victories in the Florida swing in March 2016.
“I’m still about winning,” Scott said. “But competing is also part of the result.”
Rookie Of The Year
The ballots won’t be due until after the Tour Championship, but Aaron Wise would appear to be a lock for PGA Tour rookie of the year.
The 22-year-old Californian, who was born in South Africa, is the only rookie to reach the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake. That’s been the voting pattern, such as in 2015 when Daniel Berger reached the Tour Championship and won the award over Justin Thomas, who missed East Lake by a shot.
The last rookie award for a player not at East Lake was Chesson Hadley in 2014. He won the Puerto Rico Open that year. The last player to win rookie of the year without getting to East Lake or winning a tournament was Rickie Fowler in 2010.
Wise goes to East Lake at No. 21 in the FedEx Cup. He has a victory in the AT&T Byron Nelson and a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship. His other two top 10s were at a World Golf Championship and a FedEx Cup playoff event.