FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jordan Spieth always gets good vibes at Colonial, so his return to Hogan’s Alley as defending champion might be coming at an opportune time.
“This is a great spot to kind of start a new momentum train and get off the bogey train I’ve been on,” Spieth said Wednesday.
While saying he is more confident tee to green than at any point in his career and is having a really good ball-striking year, Spieth didn’t make the weekend rounds on the PGA Tour the last two weeks. After only two missed cuts all of last season, he has three in his last five starts — all since winning at Pebble Beach in February.
And there’s less than a month before the U.S. Open.
“I feel good about the state of my game. It’s hard to compare years. I don’t really remember three years ago, two years ago, or last year what my exact feeling was here,” Spieth said. “I know what I was working on in my swing here last year and I know that I feel better about it right now. It’s about knocking that short game down.”
Spieth, who played his Colonial pro-am with Bill Murray for the second year in a row, is switching back to his old Scott Cameron flat stick putter after using a mallet-style putter at the Byron Nelson.
Before six birdies in the final nine holes to win at Colonial last May, Spieth was runner-up in 2015 between his wins at the Masters and U.S. Open during the season he had more victories (five) than missed cuts (four). Spieth finished seventh and 14th in his only other Colonials.
While Spieth will try to join Ben Hogan as the only players to win consecutive years at Colonial, two-time champion Phil Mickelson (2000, 2008) is back for the first time since missing the cut in 2010. A win then would have made Mickelson the world’s No. 1 golfer ahead of Tiger Woods.
Zach Johnson (2010, 2012) will be the only two-time Colonial champion other than Mickelson in the 121-player field when play starts Thursday.
There had been changes to the course since Mickelson’s last victory, and he later indicated that Colonial no longer suited his game. Asked Wednesday what led to his return, Mickelson said, “Nothing real specific” and that he was excited to be back.
Mickelson said after his pro-am round that he remembered the course before the renovation, when there was still a bunker behind the par-3 13th green, and the bunker now on the left side at No. 14 that used to be on the right.
“So little nuances, I still remember it the way it was before,” Mickelson said. “It’s in great shape. It’s going to be a fun week.”
Spieth, now seventh in the world rankings, missed the cut at The Players Championship two weeks ago, then failed to make the weekend for the first time in seven starts at the Byron Nelson, where in 2010 he played his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old high school junior.
While Billy Horschel was winning at the Nelson last Sunday, Spieth was playing 36 holes at Dallas National. Spieth said a couple of great putting rounds helped him regain the feel for his old Scotty Cameron.
“It’s all been setup related. So I just needed to look at something different,” Spieth said about the one-week switch to a mallet putter that helps alignment. “I didn’t know if it would be a week or a month, and ended up being a week and it feels good now.”
Hogan’s five wins at Colonial include the first two tournaments in 1946 and 1947. He won consecutive times again in 1952 and 1953.
Spieth would like to add his name again to the Wall of Champions next to the first tee, maybe in a more prominent spot.
“My name is at the bottom of the row, and so you can’t really see it during the year when the plants grow up,” he said. “I need to get one on the top so you can see it a little bit better. That’s the goal this year.”