Jordan Spieth changes putters, shoots 68 in first round of AT&T Byron Nelson
Coming into this week, Jordan Spieth was ranked No. 39 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting. That’s above average for the PGA Tour, but it’s below average for him. He commented before the AT&T Byron Nelson began that something just wasn’t clicking on the greens.
“I’m striking the ball as well as I’ve struck it this entire year, which is as good as I’ve struck the ball on Tour is how I feel,” Spieth said. “My wedge play and putting are yet to kick into gear and it just takes a bit of momentum on course.
“I can do all the practice I want, it’s just seeing some go in on course, whether it’s one round or through a streak of two tournaments, just to feel like it’s all the way back to top notch. So, it’s close.”
To his point, Spieth is No. 2 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained on approach shots. This is an improvement over last season when he was nearly outside the top 100. To try and round out his game this week, Spieth actually put a new putter in the bag at the Nelson.
Jonathan Wall of the PGA Tour noted that this is just the third tournament Spieth has used a different putter than his usual Scotty Cameron 009 since turning pro in 2012. Instead, he rocked a Scotty Cameron T5W Tour mallet.
So how’d it go? Well, both good and bad. The good is that Spieth, who missed the cut last week at The Players Championship, shot a stellar 2-under 68 in Round 1. The bad is that he was outside the top 50 in strokes gained with his putter.
“I’ve had one in the past,” Spieth said. “I’ve used this actually, this exact putter — well the older version of this putter at the British Open in 2014, The Open Championship, and on the weekend, and I used it in Akron.
“It’s nothing crazy new but obviously, you know, I’ve got a putter I’ve worn out for a number of years and it helps me line up a bit better, this one right now, and that’s kind of been my struggle is lining the putter up where I want to. So I’m falling into a nice, nice line and a nice setup which has left me more comfortable, and I just haven’t quite dialed in the speed yet.
“I wasn’t sure what that would be like today. A little off on the speed. So, hopefully I can make the adjustments.”
Spieth buoyed his round by playing fantastic golf off the tee, he finished in the top 10 there in strokes gained which portends well for the rest of this week and the year.
The last thing anyone should be concerned about when it comes to Spieth is his short game. Is he going through a lull? Sure. But he’s already won on Tour this year, and his putting has only been below average for a handful of tournaments. Sometimes you just need a jolt in the equipment game.
“The way I’ve been putting really I wouldn’t call it well,” Spieth said when asked how hard it was to move away from his old putter after he’d been putting so well with it. “I’d say it was pretty easy to transition. I haven’t been comfortable standing over it for a little while and so I just wanted something that’s a new look and the bigger a deal that’s made out of it, the more bothersome that is for me.
“It’s not really that big of a deal, and every guy switches putters every single week. It’s nothing new. Just a new look for me for the time being.”
At the time he finished, Spieth trailed the leaders (James Hahn and Ricky Barnes) by four. He’s (stunningly) looking for his first top 10 at this event over the course of his career.