Jordan Spieth hits the reset button ahead of CJ Cup Byron Nelson and draws inspiration from Scottie Scheffler

McKINNEY, Texas – As the defending champion of the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, Jason Day smiles widely when asked to name his fondest memory of winning here for the first time in more than five years.

“Obviously everything,” said Day, who won for the 13th time in his PGA Tour career.

He also marvels at the 13-year span between his first victory in 2010 at this event and his most recent time lifting a trophy.

“I always wonder where the time went,” he said.

Back in 2010, Day, 36, was one of the PGA Tour’s young hotshots, but his maiden victory was in some ways overshadowed by a 16-year-old local junior golfer, who set the tournament on fire that week.

“I just remembered like being in my own little world but I’m like who is this amateur, junior, that’s playing this week and playing really well?” Day recalled.

That would be Jordan Spieth, who finished T-16, and would become Day’s chief rival in his pursuit to become world No. 1.

“He doesn’t look too different to what he looks now, to be honest,” Day said. “Still a baby face.”

CJ Cup: Picks to win, odds | Thursday tee times | Photos

Between 2015 and 2017, Spieth collected three majors and reached world No. 1. Day, who edged Spieth to win the 2015 PGA Championship had his own stint at world No. 1, but it seems a long time ago that either of the former worldbeaters were at their peak. Day, for one, is looking forward to a friendly pairing with Spieth in the opening two rounds of this week’s CJ Cup.

“I’m excited about that because it reminds me of old-school times playing in ’14, ’15, ’16 against him when he was the top – he was No. 1 in the world and was really tough to beat that guy,” Day said.

Day enters the week at No. 22 in the Official World Golf Ranking, just behind Spieth, who has dipped back to No. 20 after a pedestrian stretch, which included a missed cut at the Masters.

Spieth is set to make his 12th appearance at this event, including a runner-up finish in his last start here in 2022. (He withdrew prior to the start of last year’s tournament citing a wrist injury.)

Spieth still is struggling with the injury, and has previously said that in January during Hawaii and on the Monday at the Players and the Valero Texas Open he experienced a 24-hour flare up of his ECU tendon issue.

“Constant TLC,” he said has been the best medicine and eventually it will require extended rest to heal. But that wasn’t the reason Spieth took off last week. He said he needed a break before he begins a busy stretch, calling it a chance to hit the reset button and clear his mind.

“Got a little burned out trying to find stuff,” he said during his Wednesday press conference. “Looking at this as kind of a restart. I haven’t had the year I wanted to have after getting off to a pretty optimistic start in Hawaii. I feel really good about the work I put in since the weekend into the few days this week, so I believe that I’m really close to some great things.

“Sometimes that can be disguised right before it happens. I’m believing that has been the case and need a couple confidence-building rounds or whatever it may be, and feel like I go on a really nice run.”

2024 CJ Cup Byron Nelson
2024 CJ Cup Byron Nelson

Jordan Spieth talks with his caddie Michael Greller before hitting an approach shot on the ninth hole prior to THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch on April 30, 2024 in McKinney, Texas. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images for The CJ Cup)

When asked to name the last time he felt the need to hit the reset button, Spieth didn’t have to think long. After he missed the cut at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth went on a run of six top-15 finishes in his next seven starts, including a win at the Valero Texas Open that ended his own personal victory drought.

“There was a shift mentally for me before the next tournament started,” he said. “All I’m looking for this week is to gain some confidence and have that coincide with some better (swing) mechanics.”

He added, “My approach to this week is it’s very hard to win events on the PGA Tour. I would love to win this event. It would mean more to me than most events. I think that can be a good thing to think about it that way. I can look at it as a place I can maybe look at as successful season and say it wasn’t what I wanted until the Byron Nelson, and then I used the tournament that’s been so special to my heart to turn things around and go forward and start a nice run.”

Spieth said he won’t include an asterisk if he were to win without world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who is awaiting the birth of his first child, in the field this week. Spieth said it’s the first time he’s drawn inspiration from a player younger than him.

“Because I play a decent amount of rounds with him here in town, I’m constantly seeing it and trying to beat him at home, and when he’s playing better than I am, it sucks. I don’t enjoy it when I’m side by side because there were however many years of our life it wasn’t that way,” Spieth said. “It’s flipped and I feel like I’ve got plenty of runway to be able to get it back. It’s inspiring at the same time to try make that happen. I have nothing in my way of being able to make that happen but my own self. I’ve got enough. I believe in my ceiling, and I believe my ceiling is as high as anybody’s. I have to get each part of my game up towards its ceiling. I have a couple areas that are about at it right now and a couple areas that need to get there. If they do, then I feel like we could go on runs together, I guess.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek