Jordan Spieth: On what the zone feels like

Here we are coming into the next “Big Deal” tournament of the season, The Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

It began with the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai back in November, moved on to the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami in early March, then the Masters at Augusta in April and then the WGC-Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park in San Francisco just last week.

For us golf fans, it’s a great week because all of golf’s playing royalty descends on the venue and you get not only exemplary play, but you get some thoughtful comments about the mastery process.  

The two big guns this week are Rory and Jordan, Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and, oh by the way, Tiger’s back.

Rory had charming humor in his media session. The talk turned to natural rivalries that were cropping up like Jack and Arnie, Tiger and Phil, and whether he had any preferences about who the rivals were?

Not really. As long as I’m one of them (laughter), the other can be whoever it is. I don’t mind.

A question came up about how important his trophies were to him and where they were displayed. Turns out, that he’s not particularly interested in flaunting them and that he doesn’t spend much time in his home office:

They’re like up in the, upstairs in like the back sort of corner. It’s like above the office that I’ve used never. (Laughter.) But, yeah, it’s sort of, you would have to go in, you would have to tell people where it is. It’s in like a little nook, like a little loft-type thing.

When The Players Championship comes up, the first thought in most people’s minds is the tricky TPC Sawgrass with its design that forces the player to be strategic to navigate its twists and turns. Pete Dye is the culprit designer for whom the players have grudging respect for the most part. A question came up for Rory about the Ryder Cup returning to the Ocean course at Kiawah Island where the Americans didn’t fare well the last time:

Yeah, I obviously enjoyed my time there immensely. I think logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare to get in and out and on and off the island. I don’t think you guys are sort of probably not that happy to be going back. (Laughter.)

For his part Jordan got a question about what it felt like to be in “beast mode” as he was in his dominating Masters victory. It was one of the best comprehensive answers you’ll find about what it feels like to be in the zone.

I would call that maybe the zone. And in a non-NFL term, I would call it the zone.

When you get into the zone, everything feels right; you may not be striking every shot on the middle of the face, but it doesn’t matter because it’s coming out straight. You’re hitting your lines, the hole keeps looking bigger on the green, and mainly for me when it’s a zone, it’s more putting than anything.

I was in the zone the second round last week against Matt Every. I wasn’t striking the ball great, but every putt was finding the middle of the hole. You just kind of — everything seems simpler. You don’t really see anything else around you. All you see is that line, you see your high point, you see where it’s going to roll over en route to going in.

It’s something that we all try and get to each round, but it can only happen every once in a while and it’s fun when it happens, because you don’t really know what score you’re at in the round. I think the first round at Augusta this year was certainly a zone moment until I woke up there on 15 and made a bogey. But that was one where I was really just in a good rhythm, hitting the right shots, the smart shots, and making a lot of putts.

Rory and Jordan and Jason Day go off at 8:39 and the other marquee group in the afternoon is Tiger, Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott at 1:49.

But there are 144 world-class players in the field, so anybody could have a great week. Which is why we watch.

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