Never tell Jordan Spieth that he’s back.
“I hate that, ‘He’s back,’ ” he said last month. “I never went anywhere.”
True, he still strolled the grounds at PGA Tour events in recent seasons but Spieth, a former world No. 1 in men’s golf, had fallen to 92nd in the rankings just six months ago. The winner of three major championships before he was 24, he had not won a tournament of any kind in four years. Moreover, he looked and sounded lost, a familiar state in his occupation and a condition that can become permanent.
Then on Sunday in the final round at the British Open, Spieth was the biggest threat to catch the eventual champion, Collin Morikawa. Spieth would fall two strokes short of the precocious Morikawa, who has now won twice in only eight major championship appearances.
Jordan Spieth at the 2021 Open Championship
US golfer Jordan Spieth lines up his put on the 18th green during his final round on day 4 of The 149th British Open Golf Championship at Royal St George's, Sandwich in south-east England on July 18, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)
SANDWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 13: The group of Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas play their shots from the 18th hole tee during a practice round ahead of the 149th The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club on July 13, 2021 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Neither muscular nor swashbuckling, Morikawa, 24, wins with a mixture of calm and élan, much like Spieth did when he won two majors in his first 10 starts from 2015 to 2017.
But whether he likes it or not, Spieth’s performance at this year’s British Open would seem to prove that he is back — or has at least reached the most important stage of any comeback, which is self belief. The proof was in Spieth’s words alongside the 18th green at Royal St. George’s along the southern coast of England.
“I 100 percent played well enough to win the championship,” he said. “And I haven’t felt that way in a major in quite a while. Under major championship pressure on a weekend, my swing held up nicely. And that’s a huge confidence boost.”