SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND | As Jordan Spieth approaches his fifth Open Championship, he’s not exactly a grizzled veteran but, being a quick study, he has a solid sense of how things tend to go with the Claret Jug on the line.
Some of it is as simple as luck of the draw. Catch the right side of the Thursday-Friday tee times when the wind could be soft and the rain could be missing and it can make the difference in being in contention and being on a plane home Saturday morning.
Last year at Royal Troon, Spieth found himself on the wrong side of the draw, dealing with the worst of the weather while Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson marched away to their history-making duel.
With a mixed weather forecast for Thursday and Friday, it may be the same for both sides of the draw. Then again, maybe not.
Regardless, Spieth understands it’s part of the nature of the Open Championship.
“I’ve seen really dry and favorable conditions, like Muirfield. And then last year was pretty wicked on I think Friday. And I’ve kind of seen a bit of everything in four years’ time,” Spieth said.
“To say that it may be the easiest of the majors to win, if you had to pick a major, just because the draw can take out half a field. But the type of golf you have to play is totally different than what we see in the other three majors. You have to have a lot of imagination and a lot of ball-flight control.
“So I’m not saying it’s easy based on competition or anything like that, I’m strictly saying that because a lot of the time some of the field is thrown out and you’re actually playing against a smaller field, your percentage chances go up. Again, you can’t control it. Keep your head down. Be confident in what you’re doing. And out here play in the middle of the greens.”
Spieth is among the betting favorites along with red-hot Jon Rahm. He’s also coming off a beach vacation after a stretch of six events in seven weeks. If the weather turns sour, Spieth said it will be essential to keep a positive frame of mind.
“If it’s an afternoon round and the other side has already played the morning, that’s when it’s tough. Because you’re like, ‘I can’t shoot those scores. It’s not possible.’ And that’s frustrating when you think you can play your best and it doesn’t happen,” Spieth said.
“But it’s the nature of it, and I plan on playing 30 of these, and I guarantee you it will end up being 15 and 15 at the end of the day. I was in the bad end last year. St. Andrews I thought it kind of depended if you were really early or really late on the tee times, I don’t really remember. Muirfield I don’t think there was a draw. So it fluctuates a bit.
“It is tough. I think that’s the most frustrating part about this tournament is getting through the first couple of days, from my experience. Because if you’re on the good end, you almost put that kind of pressure on yourself: ‘Hey, I need to jump out ahead.’ And so it’s a mind game that you play with yourself there.”