Jordan Spieth returns for his first start since November at the Sony Open this week, and is 'itching' to get back in to the winners circle after a disappointing 2018
Jordan Spieth had his first winless season since turning professional last year, dropping from 2nd to 17th in the World Rankings, registering just five top 10s in 25 starts and failing to make the Tour Championship.
The headlines, 'what's wrong with Jordan Spieth?', followed him all year, but Spieth has learnt to ignore the speculation.
"The thing for us is not to get caught up in today's news," Spieth said. "It's easy to sometimes when you're not used to it. I haven't seen, read, or heard anything on it. I learned that lesson already because I know what's wrong with Jordan Spieth, and I know what's right with Jordan Spieth."
He now returns to Hawaii after a spell of time away from the game to get married and go on his honeymoon, and the 25-year-old is keen to get his confidence back by forgetting the bad and working on the positive points of 2018.
During his press conference on Wednesday Spieth said that he was 'itching' to get back in to the winner's circle in 2019, but his main focus was regaining consistency and learning from the weaker parts of his game last season.
He didn't confirm his place in this week's field until late on, but added it was the perfect place to "come down and try out the very little work I was able to put in... knock some rust off and gather some information about where I am at and hopefully make some adjustments going forward into the season."
As for how he's moving past last year, the first step for Spieth was acknowledging that a frustrating year was inevitable at some point in his career, and how to use that to help him figure out how to recapture more consistency.
"I was certainly frustrated with last season results-wise compared to previous seasons," Spieth admitted during his press conference at the Sony Open.
"It was also something I kind of embraced as an inevitable at some point in the career. I almost took ignorance as bliss in a lot of parts of my game. I did things well, but I didn't know why. I just did them. Then they got off, and so I had to figure out why I did them well and how to train it back.
"Ultimately that should help me going forward to be able to -- if I get off, not be as off or be able to click it back on quicker to stay as consistent as possible.
"When I started to kind of embrace the fact that it was bound to happen at some point in the career and maybe this is it, then make that be the only time I get that far off and grind it back. Then you have your checkpoints that can't get off again."
One of the things Spieth has been focusing on for this season is understanding the weaker points of his game last year (notably his putting), and said both time away and technology helped him realise the right things for him to work on.
"Time away from the game, a little bit of help from technology, and talking with Cameron (McCormick)," Spieth said about what helped him with his game. "A combination of things. Technology actually helped a lot when it comes to putting and whatnot. We were able to see some stuff there, and just now it's about as many reps as I can get to get it in."
"I'm trying to take what I did last year statistically and find the weak points," Spieth had also told NBC Golf. "A lot of work on the putter and try to get back to the putting I expect from myself.
"Ball-striking wise I had a lot of strong suits but certainly some weak points as well. Every year it's about finding where I was down the year before and try to work that back up.
"Each part of my game at some point in my career has been the best in the world, so I know that I'm capable of getting each part of my game to that level, which is reassuring."
"I feel pretty patient with what's coming because I know I'm working on the right things," Spieth added in his press conference. "Took me a while to figure out what that was. Now I know I'm working on the right things in the game to get back on track and get to where I'm as a consistent as I've been before.
"It's a matter of time, but I need on-course, in-tournament reps as well to continue to speed that up.
Asked what he would consider a successful 2019, Spieth made it clear he was keen to become more consistent with his scoring, and as a result of that get back to winning.
"I would love to get back in the winner's circle. Been itching. I only really had a couple chances last year. I know in golf you can play the best and still not win that week, and you can also be a little off and somehow win. I've been on both sides of that.
"Ultimately just comes down to being as consistent with my game as I can to continue to work my way into the top 10 by Sunday, and then it'll start to fall. So it's not trying to win a tournament. It's more an overall consistency of the game.
"Last year I was really off with the putting the first half of the year; that started to get better and then the swing got off many. So just having tournaments where I shoot 4-under every round instead of 2-over, 7-under, even. Instead of all of that bouncing back and forth, just some more consistency."
Jordan Spieth will play with Gary Woodland and Bryson DeChambeau for the first two rounds of The Sony Open in Hawaii, and will tee off on the 10th hole on Thursday at 6pm GMT. (Tee Times here)