By Jordan Spieth’s standards, he had a solid 2016 season — two wins, eight top-10s and over $5.5 million earned on the course. However, with no major wins coming off of a season in which he won two and had a chance in the others, critics claimed that the sky was falling on the Golden Child, Chicken Little style.
While most of the stats back up Spieth’s assertion that, no, the sky was actually not falling, there was an area of his game that Spieth himself has identified as his weakest link and a reason he didn’t have more success in 2016.
GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray documented Spieth’s self-diagnosis, which was levied ironically in his defending champion’s conference call for the SBS Tournament of Champions, which will kick off the 2017 schedule on Jan. 5.
After a season that included a trio of individual wins and a pivotal role in a Ryder Cup victory, Jordan Spieth is eager to turn the page to 2017. And when he does, his focus will be right in the middle of his golf bag.
Spieth notched bookend victories this year at the Tournament of Champions and Australian Open as well as a win in front of partisan crowds at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational. But he also let a second Masters title slip away and failed to contend at any of the other three majors.
Jordan Spieth’s strokes gained stats continue to fascinate me. He’s putting quite a bit better than last yr. pic.twitter.com/yczvaGjvyQ
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) September 13, 2016
As he gets set to defend his title at Kapalua, Spieth explained on a conference call this week that he hopes to improve his short-iron game.
“It’s the scoring irons. It’s 125 to 175 yards,” Spieth said. “That’s where I was pretty solid in 2015 and then that was one area of my game that took a little bit of a hit this past season. I just wasn’t as good with my wedge, 9-, 8-, 7-iron, and especially on kind of shorter par 3s.”
The statistics back up Spieth’s assertion. In 2016 he slipped from 22nd to 47th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained from 125-150 yards, and he also fell from 34th to 101st in strokes gained from 150-175 yards. As a result, he sees “big room for improvement” within that yardage window heading into the new year.
A dialed-in Speith with his irons is a dangerous Spieth, as we saw in Australia. Identifying his weakest link and turning it into a strength could spell trouble for the rest of the PGA Tour in 2017.