Jordan Spieth’s 2018 Open Championship final round had a similar feel to his 2017 Open Championship final round, except there was no blistering finish to recover from earlier mistakes at Carnoustie as the three-time major champion fell down the leaderboard to finish in a tie for ninth after a 5-over par 76 on Sunday.
Yet roughly 20 minutes after he tapped in for his 76th stroke of the day, Spieth told NBC’s Jimmy Roberts that he was already over blowing a share of the 54-hole lead.
“I feel fine. I’ve already gone through the frustration,” he said. “You put yourself in position enough times, it goes your way some, doesn’t go your way some.”
While there are surely some defense mechanisms at play, it’s hard to argue with Spieth’s rationalization. He came into The Open with more questions than answers surrounding his game. Since a third-place finish at the Masters in April, Spieth missed the cut in three of his seven starts and didn’t post a finish better than T21.
While there had been flashes and some self-talk about things coming together, there really had been no on-the-course signs of what Spieth claimed to be improving upon.
“I’m actually very pleased with my week,” Spieth said. “I’ve come from a place that I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get back with my golf game earlier this year — just trying to grind stuff out; just giving myself an opportunity was good this week.
“Obviously disappointed having a share of the lead and really only needing to shoot par, but I love every aspect of my game right now. I feel like it’s going the right direction. I think it’s going to be a strong end of the year. I just didn’t get the right bounces today, and sometimes that happens.”
One year apart: pic.twitter.com/dKs9BNO7Tm
— Adam Sarson (@Adam_Sarson) July 22, 2018
The wrong bounces began on the fifth and sixth holes. Standing firm while others at the top of the leaderboard stumbled out of the gates, Spieth made a bogey precipitated by hitting into a fairway bunker on the fifth hole and then saw a double bogey come into play on the sixth when his second shot found a gorse bush.
— Born Salty (@cjzero) July 22, 2018
Shortly thereafter, Spieth caught a glimpse of a scoreboard — something he said he tried not to do — and saw that he no longer had the lead.
“I saw (a leaderboard) on maybe No. 7 or 8 green, and it was on accident,” Spieth said. “I looked up, and I saw Tiger at No. 1, and he was leading solo, and I went to Michael, I was like, ‘Dammit, I looked at the board, dude.’ I was frustrated at myself.”
That frustration never turned into momentum as was the case last year. Spieth parred in on the front nine, but couldn’t close the gap on the rotating cast at the top of the leaderboard. Bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes sealed his fate as he went birdie-free on Sunday.
Still, Spieth was encouraged by the makeshift game he brought to Carnoustie and will tee it up in two weeks at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before making his run at the career grand slam in three weeks outside of St. Louis at Bellerive Country Club.