Jordan Spieth has a one-shot lead at the 54-hole mark of the Shell Houston Open. Ever since his unofficial win in Tiger’s Hero World Championship, he’s been on quite a run. Except he doesn’t think of it that way:
Honestly, ideally I don’t look that this is a run. I look at this as this is the way I should be playing. If I look at it as a run, it means the normal me is something lesser than I am right now. I can’t think of myself that way.
Since the Hero, he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego and finished T17 at Doral, but aside from them he’s finished top-7 or better in five tournaments including his win at the Valspar in Tampa and 2nd in last week’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
Not looking at this as a run is a perfect example of transformational thinking: step into the role first and if you’re prepared in every other way, the fulfillment of that role will follow. If we go back to his great rookie year “performance for the ages,” he’s gone from the beginning of that year with no status to the No. 4 player in the world…in less than 2½ years. And as to this year:
So, no, I think we’ve prepared the first few months of the year to get ready for next week and then from there it becomes getting ready for the next Major. I want to peak at that time.
I seem to be peaking now as well, and I’d like to continue that next week so maybe it’s a little less-is-more as I go into teeing off next Thursday, maybe it’s a limited practice next week, not wear myself out.
And because this frontrunner status is nothing new to him, he has a pretty good idea what Sunday’s final round will bring and what its implications are for Master’s week:
Tomorrow is going to take a lot out of me. I’m in contention, final group on Sunday just like last week. After you do that twice in a row, I’ve witnessed doing it two, three times in a row, and it takes a lot out of you mentally.
So maybe a little rest next week will be the best way to prepare, but I’m still going to need to get enough repetitions around the greens and on the greens next week.
And, no surprise at this point, his preparation for the Masters has been intentional and with a single purpose:
Ideally when I looked back to preparing the best way I could for the Masters, I wanted to get into contention as much as I could prior, to have as much experience and to limit those nerves and feel more comfortable each time.
And today was as comfortable as I’ve ever been with the lead on a weekend, which feels really good. Tomorrow I’ll certainly have nerves. Hopefully give myself a chance to win. If that works out, then that will take even more confidence into next week. Anytime you can close a tournament out, it’s going to be good for you the next time you tee it up.
This is the argument for being tournament tough. This is why all those good players are trying to become great players by beating their brains out on the mini-tours. You have to be playing competitively in order to be a competitive player in the higher reaches of the game.
There finally comes a time after you’ve become battle hardened with nerves and the wins that stamp you as a “player,” that incessant playing may not be necessary. All we need do is look at all the top players in the world who are not playing this week in their run-up to the Masters, Tiger being the most notable one.
So, rest or play? Next Sunday night we’ll have another data point in that ongoing question. But Jordan Spieth seems to be on the right track for what’s best for him…making this Sunday night just as interesting.