Nick Faldo knows something about defending a Masters title, having won in back-to-back years at Augusta in 1989 and 1990.
So when the CBS Sports lead golf analyst offers some observations on Jordan Spieth as he prepares to take to the course once again after earning the green jacket last year, his words carry extra weight. Faldo joined 670 The Score Tuesday, and expressed concern that Spieth’s rigorous early-season travel might be taking a toll on his game. The 22-year-old opted for January tournaments in Maui, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, all while most of his major competitors were just starting their respective seasons.
“It could be too much,” Faldo said, “especially if you fly to Asia, where it’s a 12-hour time change. You’re only there for a week, then you come back. It’s just not easy to do all that, especially when you’re in the spotlight at the tournament. You’re the center of all the attention, people wanting you to go to the parties, all the entertainment. You want to win the tournament as well, then you jump back on a plane. Yeah, it can pile up. If you’re playing well, and it’s all going easy, fine. But if you’re not, then it gets a little bit frustrating, and it wears you out. And then you’re jumping on another plane, and you’re doing it again.”
Spieth himself has admitted that his busy calendar has affected his play, telling the Golf Channel he felt “kind of beat up mentally” and that physically he was “not 100 percent right now.” And that was before the jaunt to Singapore, where he finished second to South Korea’s Song Young-han. Since his runaway win at Kapalua, his top PGA Tour finish has been a tie for ninth at the Match Play. Despite a promising start to last Sunday’s final round at the Shell Houston Open, Spieth ended up in a tie for 13th place.
“You get frustrated with your own game,” Faldo said of Spieth, “and we saw that at the Match Play. He’s not firing as consistently as he was last year. Last year it was 66, 67 almost daily. So now he’s a little bit more frustrated in his swing and his scoring ability.”
Spieth was in good spirits upon arriving at Augusta, with Faldo relating a lighthearted moment that occurred when the two pulled up to the club at the same time amid typical traffic on Washington Road. Unsure of who was to drive in first, Spieth rolled down a window to note that he was the defending champion.
Faldo held up three fingers, one for each of his titles. But he still deferred to the youngster.
Spieth might be wise to pay close attention to Faldo’s advice on how to stay in control of one’s commitments when trying to stay atop a demanding and fickle sport, and one currently so filled with talented and motivated opponents.
“There’s an awful lot of good tournaments, and you can’t play all of them,” Faldo said. “A lot of people are going to be disappointed that you can’t be everywhere all the time, but you do have to pace yourself, especially when you start flying overnight to another event.”
Spieth has been generous with his time and loyalty to certain tournaments, but Faldo thinks a little more selfishness is needed.
“It’s easy when you’re playing good because you feel strong and are putting good,” Faldo said. “As soon as it’s hard work and you want to spend more practice time, and you can’t because you’ve got some other commitments, that’s when you start to think ‘What’s going on here? I’m on the wrong side of this spiral.’”
“It’s about quality time to yourself as well. Whether you want to rest, whether you want to practice or whether you want to go do some hobby you want to do. You’re entitled to that.”