PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Jordan Spieth couldn’t do anything wrong the first 58 holes he played at The Players Championship.
Since then, hardly anything has gone right.
The latest episode was Thursday, when Spieth started off on a wild ride in the easiest scoring conditions. He three-putted from 6 feet for bogey on No. 10. He hit into the water and made bogey on the par-5 11th. He drove onto the 12th green to 10 feet for eagle. And then his tee shot kicked off the side of a bunker and went into the water on the par-3 13th for a double bogey. He hit one more into the water on No. 16 for another bogey.
It never got much better. Spieth had a 75 and was in jeopardy of missing the cut for the fourth straight year at the TPC Sawgrass.
”At Augusta, I can feel like I really didn’t play that great and I’m somewhere near the leaderboard,” Spieth said. ”Out here, I felt like I didn’t play that bad and I’m like in last. So it’s two ends of the spectrum for me historically.”
Spieth was bogey-free until the fifth hole of the final round in his debut in 2014, eventually tying for fourth.
He is 11 over in his last eight rounds at The Players.
Spieth concedes he made bad swings on the 11th and 16th, two of his three balls in the water. Otherwise, he couldn’t figure out what went wrong.
”On 1, 2 and 3 I missed by a total of 6 feet,” Spieth said, feeling as though he was a product of a quick shift in wind or a bounce that was a foot from going the proper direction. ”I didn’t miss a shot after trying to climb back, so that was frustrating.”
He played the final six holes in 1 over to salvage a reasonable score. He was headed to the range, feeling no need to work on any one thing.
”That was about as unlucky a round as I’ve probably ever had,” Spieth said. ”It’s kind of frustrating, because I’m close on a course that hasn’t really yielded special results for me recently.”
Phil Mickelson has a new clothing deal with Dallas-based Mizzen and Main that he describes as the ”perfect apparel partner that allowed me to move from the board room to the golf course.”
He played like he should have stayed at the office.
Mickelson wore a long-sleeved shirt with buttons – not much different from the shirt that drew plenty of attention during his practice round with Tiger Woods on the day before the Masters – and was going along fine until a 41 on the back nine. That included three double bogeys.
”I think nobody does kind of slightly overweight, middle-aged guy better than me, and this says exactly who I am,” Mickelson said after his round of 79, still in good spirits despite his worst score at The Players since an 83 in the opening round in 2000.
The partnership makes Mickelson an equity holder in the company, joining Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
”These dress shirts not only look incredible, but are so comfortable and versatile I can actually play golf in them,” Mickelson said in a statement announcing the partnership.
After his round, he was quick to clarify that ”we have short sleeves, too.”
Steve Stricker was not just representing the PGA Tour Champions when he opened with a 67. Sure, he’s won twice on the 50-and-older circuit this year and only recently lost his lead in the Charles Schwab Cup. But the 51-year-old has played five times on the PGA Tour, his best finish a tie for 12th at the Valspar Championship.
And he remains on the fence about where to play.
Stricker has entered the AT&T Byron Nelson next week. He also has entered the Regions Tradition, one of five senior majors. He has until 3 p.m. Monday to decide which tournament – which tour – he’s going to play.
”At this point, I don’t know which way I’m going to go,” Stricker said. ”I’m either going to Birmingham or Dallas. It all depends on how I do here. And if I can show myself that I can compete out here and play well out here, then I’m going to Byron Nelson.”
That can wait.
His younger daughter, Izzy, turned 12 on Thursday. She wanted to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream.
The shortest hole played the hardest Thursday at the TPC Sawgrass.
Of course, that hole – the notorious 17th – is surrounded by water.
Twenty-one players hit their tee shots into the water in the opening round, and three other balls went into the water from either the drop area or from a greenside bunker. No one suffered quite like Hideki Matsuyama.
The Japanese star went into the water on his tee shot, just short of the island to a front pin. He hit his next shot from the tee into a bunker, and then blasted that out through the green and into the water. Matsuyama this time went to the drop area, hit to 30 feet and two-putted for an 8.
He shot 79.