Spieth: ’18 hand injury left game a ‘little bit off’

Golf

A bone chip in his left hand suffered in 2018 may have been part of the reason why Jordan Spieth struggled for a good bit of time since his last victory on the PGA Tour at the 2017 Open.

Spieth, reluctant to give much detail or use it as an excuse, said Monday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, admitted that he probably should have had the injury addressed through surgery, but opted not to do so. Instead, to avoid pain, he failed to make compensations in his grip that might have helped him play better golf. “Spieth first disclosed the injury to Golf Channel.

“It was something that (if) you can clean it out, it’s not going to make anything worse,” Spieth said in advance of this week’s tournament, which begins Wednesday at Austin Country Club in Texas. “It’s just a matter of how bad it’s bugging you and it was for a while there. Kind of in the spring of 2018 through that fall, and then it got a little better probably because I started swinging so poorly.

“I don’t feel it now, which is nice. Needed to work on some grip strength stuff. For the most part I started noticing it when (coach) Cameron (McCormick) was trying to get my grip strengthened and I just kept fighting him on it because it would hurt. I didn’t really know what to do and I just ended up playing through it.”

Although Spieth was tied for the 54-hole lead at the 2018 Open before tying for ninth, he rarely contended for a stretch that lasted into this year and saw him drop to 92nd in the world after he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

But he’s been on a bit of resurgence since, contending in consecutive tournaments, finishing tied for fourth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and tied for third at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Spieth was also 15th at the Genesis Invitational and he tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before a tie for 48th at the Players Championship. In 2019, Spieth’s driving and approach to the green statistics fell outside of the top 140 on the PGA Tour. He also acknowledged putting issues that he said had nothing to do with his hand.

“It was 100 percent responsible for me not being able to strengthen my grip, which in turn then is probably normally the first thing guys go to, if something gets a little bit off is, all right, where in my setup are things different,” he said. “And if that’s one of the things, that’s going to impact how everything feels.

“I’ve swung it enough the right way, when it’s not the right way my brain’s like, wow, something’s out of position, what is it. And I could shoot 5-under, but for four straight rounds to have to time it up a lot more and be consistent, it’s that much harder. So it was very much a reason, but I mean, everybody’s got some reason for something that they get off. That was mine, and I certainly could have handled it differently and feel good that right now it’s not an issue.”

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