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Jordan Spieth’s mind might wander a bit this week during the Valero Texas Open, his attention at times drifting away from the task at hand.
Which isn’t a bad thing.
Turns out, thinking about next week’s Masters will do him good.
“Looking forward to next week only drives me more for this week, so I don’t think there’s difficulty in letting my mind wander and having that affect in any negative way,” Spieth said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “If anything, it can only drive me to do a little bit more this week.”
The 2015 Masters champion, who also finished second at Augusta National in 2014 and 2016 and third in 2018, isn’t one to get too far ahead of himself, so, no, he won’t be thinking about the tee shot on the 12th at Augusta National as he’s teeing off on the par-3 16th at the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
Instead, he’ll be concentrating on the steps he wants to follow to peak for next week as he does the other three major championships. That means continuing the progress he’s made recently with his swing and trying to win for the first time since capturing the Claret Jug in the 2017 Open Championship, the most recent of his 11 PGA Tour titles.
“The best way to prepare for next week is to win this week. That’s the most confidence you can gain out of this week is to win,” Spieth said.
Fans watch as Jordan Spieth tees off on the 12th hole during a practice round for the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship Monday, March 22, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press)
Spieth’s confidence has been growing since emerging earlier this year from a long slump. He has three top-4 finishes in his last six starts and advanced out of pool play in last week’s World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin before losing in the Round of 16 to Matt Kuchar.
“Each tournament round I’m gaining a little bit more confidence, I’m learning a little bit about kind of where things are at, and on‑the‑course repetitions are different than practice repetitions,” he said. “When you work your way into contention, that’s where you start to then feel more comfortable each time you get into contention. That’s always a great thing leading into a major. The next couple days is about doing what I can in practice leading into that and then go out there and play.”
Much of his practice will be spent on his short game.
“I’ve hit the ball better the last few tournaments than I did even on the west coast, but just kind of lost a little confidence at The Players after not seeing any putts go in,” Spieth said. “Kind of started to feel a little bit better throughout the Match Play, but just got some work to do on my stroke and then just dial in some short game shots that I may just have taken my mind a little off of with a lot of swing work. Just fine tuning the short game is going to be kind of No. 1 priority.”
Spieth will be making his sixth start in the Valero Texas Open, a second-place finish in 2015 his best result. He likes the course and the vibe of the tournament, which is about an hour south of last week’s Tour stop and four hours from his home in Dallas.
He’ll get into a Masters state of mind while trying to win a 12th Tour title.
“When I drive down Magnolia Lane, for me it’s like, ‘It’s go time,’” Spieth said. “Almost regardless of form, regardless of if you just won or if you’ve missed the previous cut, it really makes no difference to me in my confidence level when I pull into Magnolia Lane.
“I’m looking to build up a little bit to be able to taper down next week as far as the amount of golf balls hit and the amount of focus on technique so that when I get there, I can just kind of go through the gates, go down that first day and just say, ‘All right, we’re here to play this week.’”
He said the same thing driving into TPC San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open.