2019 Masters: Jordan Spieth is sliding into Augusta National, can he somehow right the ship?
He's one of the best to ever do it at ANGC, but it's not been going well of late
It seems odd to profile the No. 30 golfer in the world for the first major of 2019, but when that same golfer is arguably a handful of shots from winning four of the last five Masters, it's kind of important. Jordan Spieth comes into the 2019 Masters with all the downhill momentum of a sloth after a few beverages, but he's also set himself apart -- even in this elite field -- as one of the few who have done this before (and seemingly will do it again). Let's take a look at Spieth's chances to win a second green jacket.
Masters profile: Jordan Spieth
Masters played: 5
Cuts made: 5
Top 10 finishes: 4
Scoring average: 70.05
Best finish: Won in 2015
2019 OWGR: No. 30 | 2019 strokes gained: No. 166 | 2019 Odds: 50-1
History: Spieth's average finish (his average finish!) over the last five Masters is 3.8. That includes a T2, win, T2, T11 and solo third. Those are his five finishes. He's beaten 438 of the 458 golfers he's gone up against in his five Masters appearances. He's tied six of them and lost to just 14. That's a 95.6 winning percentage with just one jacket to show for it.
Current form: It's not good! Since last year's Masters, Spieth has one more top 10 at stroke play events than you do, and the following PGA Tour golfers are currently ahead of him in strokes gained: Kramer Hicock, Stephan Jaeger, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Josh Teater and Anders Albertson (who is well ahead of him).
Best ... and worst: Obviously Spieth's best is his runaway rout in 2015, but he's the rarity whose worst is not actually his worst finish. I was there for the seven he took on hole No. 12 in 2016, and it was an unspeakable thing.
Stats matter: One thing that gets lost in the Spieth vortex is that he has three majors not because he's a great putter, but because he's a great ball-striker who also putted well in a variety of huge tournaments. His putting has been fine this season -- at 81st, certainly good enough to win a tournament -- but it's everything else that is struggling and keeping him from contending. An example: Each of the last 10 Masters champs ended the season on the positive side of strokes gained off the tee (including Spieth in 2015 when he gained 0.5). Spieth is losing 0.7 strokes to the field right now in that category.
Masters moment(s): Strangely I remember a moment from the ones he lost -- the quad in 2016 and the putt on No. 16 in 2018 with a 62 squarely in his sights -- more than I do from the year he won in 2015. The part I remember about 2015 is more him banging on flagsticks on Thursday and Friday and racing out to what felt like a 20-stroke lead (but in reality was just five).
Why he'll win: It's his Narnia. He keeps telling us how close it is and how it's about to click -- which is more for him than it is for us -- but the crazy part is that I could actually see it clicking at Augusta. It's an otherworldly place that has produced inexplicable results over the years. Spieth winning with his current form would top the list, but would it really be any crazier than Jack Nicklaus contending at age 58 in 1998 or Charl Schwartzel (!) making birdie at the last four (!) holes to win in 2011?
Why he won't win: Well ... it might be as simple as the the ol' "don't pick anybody who can't crack the top 200 over the first three months of the season in strokes gained off the tee" rule.
Prediction: It clicks -- and it's a storyline -- but it doesn't click. A sixth-straight top 11 for Spieth.
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