Jordan Spieth: “Kind of in this quiet zone”

Anybody getting tired of all these serial Jordan Spieth posts? I’m not. Every time I try to pay attention to some other player, say like the leader at the RBC Heritage, Troy Merritt, Spieth says or does something else too rich to ignore.

For the record, Merritt followed up equaling the course record 61 on Friday with a third round 2-under 69. That left him at 14-under and three ahead of Brendon Todd, Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar. One more back at 10-under is the trio of Brice Garnett, Branden Grace and Jim Furyk.

For his part, Spieth managed a 3-under 68 leaving him at 9-under and five shots back of the leader. With his 62 on Friday, that’s certainly within the realm of possibility. But it was what he had to say Saturday night that immediately caught my attention: 

Each round has been a little bit easier.  The first one was a weird feeling round.  Yesterday felt better.  Today I felt even more comfortable, like it was a normal Saturday.

So tomorrow I’m happy to be kind of in this quiet zone, coming from behind and hopefully making some noise.  The weird thing is this is the first time I’ve been in contention where I haven’t felt nerves one time, after last week.

So certainly enjoying that.  I like that.  I think it would be easier to get into a rhythm like yesterday, if I can make a few putts.

He talked about being in a quiet zone and he attributed that state of being to his Masters victory, “I haven’t felt nerves one time, after last week.”

He said that he was enjoying that, that he liked that and that he thought “it would be easier to get into a rhythm like [Friday],” if he could just make a few putts. Putts dropping seems to be a trigger for players to go on a scoring rampage.

But the thing that allows the rampage is the quiet mind that comes with proving that you’re as good as you always hoped you were by, like, winning the Masters…and then shooting a career low 62 days later.

Affirming your greatness takes doubt, indecision and, yes, fear out of the equation. It allows you to just “be” in the moment with what’s in front of you and to be able to react to it with a finely tuned body and uncluttered mind.

I keep coming back to surgeons and airline captains as the best example of unthinking, see-and-react physical movement. The surgeon is not thinking about how to grip his scalpel and how his hand should move when he’s in another human being’s chest cavity. He just sees what needs to be cut and he cuts it.

An airline captain on a 350,000 pound Boeing 777 hurtling down a short final at almost 160 miles per hour is not thinking about the 400 people sitting behind him. He’s watching the instrument that tells him he’s properly on the glideslope and he’s watching the runway. With the airplane properly trimmed up, his hand movements are almost imperceptible.

This is why so much of recent thinking in the world of professional golf is about the target and the shot the player wants to hit to it. Paige Mackenzie once told me that she imagines the shot all the way to the ground and found playing Royal Melbourne in Australia challenging because she couldn’t see the fairway on many of the tee shots.

So for Jordan Spieth to have this same skill set, to feel completely at ease with himself and to have the thought that he intends to, “make some noise,” on his way up the leaderboard, could make for another great day for him.

Note: Because of heavy rains forecast for the afternoon, the tee times have been moved up to as early as 7:30am. The broadcast windows will remain the same, so if you want to watch it like a live event, stay away from the internet and the Golf Channel’s pre-game show. And no matter what happens, enjoy the run Jordan Spieth is on.

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