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Spieth Struggles In Loss, Relinquishes No. 1 Ranking

Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters. Picture Supplied by Action Images.

AUSTIN, TEXAS | Jordan Spieth was gone from Austin Country Club and the WGC-Dell Match Play by lunchtime Saturday, perhaps as big a disappointment to the 10,000 largely Longhorn fans who had come to watch him as it was to Spieth himself.

Match play, by nature, is a different animal and all the good work Spieth had done the first three days – he was a combined 10-under par in rolling undefeated through his round-robin matches – came undone in a 4-and-2 loss to Louis Oosthuizen.

To Spieth, Saturday morning felt like a day when none of his clothes fit and he was somehow out of step with the cosmos.

During his pre-match warm-up session, Spieth knew his swing was off. The problem was he couldn’t figure out why he kept hitting shots to the right. And he never did, at least not against Oosthuizen.

Spieth hit a big Saturday-morning slice off the first tee and spent the cool morning chasing a fix he never entirely found.

“I was off from when I hit my first 10 shots on the range,” Spieth said. “The ball was slicing off, which is very odd. I’ve had incredible control of the ball this week and of my wedges. I’m not exactly sure what happened, I still don’t really know.”

For a guy who’s been in command of his game for so long, Saturday was different.

“I really just felt very uncomfortable over the golf ball today,” he said. “On the par-3s, you just can’t go in the water. I tried to avoid the water as best I could, and still hit into it with slices, with a 9-iron and an 8-iron.”

Spieth treated Saturday like a one-off, a day he’ll file away and move on from. He hadn’t planned on having Sunday off but now he has it, then he’ll head to the Shell Houston Open for his final prep before The Masters.

Despite the loss, Spieth insisted he came out of Austin better than he came into it.

“From Tuesday to now I feel much more confident than I did about Augusta,” he said.

The loss also jeopardized Spieth’s No. 1 world ranking, a spot he surrendered when Jason Day defeated Brooks Koepka to advance to the semifinals.

“To be honest, it could be a good thing for me going into The Masters,” Spieth said. “More on other people, less on me.”


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