January 10, 2019 / 1:05 AM / 7 days ago

Golf: 'Big three' a memory as Spieth plots return to the top

(Reuters) - It has been a few years since Jordan Spieth was anointed one of golf’s ‘big three’ with Jason Day and Rory McIlroy but the 25-year-old Texan believes he knows what he needs to do to get back into the top echelons of the game.

FILE PHOTO: Golf - 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National - Guyancourt, France - September 30, 2018 - Team USA's Jordan Spieth during the Singles REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Spieth, Day and McIlroy, all in their 20s, were ranked first, second and third in the world respectively at the end of 2015 and destined in some eyes to dominate the landscape for another decade.

None has disappeared but they are now ranked eighth (McIlroy), 11th (Day) and 17th (Spieth) with attention having drifted away as their games have stagnated or backtracked.

“I remember in 2015-16 the word(s) ‘big three’ being mentioned so many times in almost every interview and not one of us three has been talked about in the last couple of years,” Spieth told reporters on Wednesday on the eve of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Following his nuptials in November, Spieth will make his first official start as a married man in Honolulu this week, hopeful that 2019 will signal a return to his previous greatness.

He had the first so-so year of his still young career in 2018, finishing 31st in the PGA Tour’s FedExCup rankings and without a victory for the first time since 2014.

Spieth’s decline was due in no small measure to the loss of his formidable mid-range putting prowess, as the previously insane percentage of putts he made in the 10-20-foot range dried up.

He has been tight-lipped about the cause of his putting problems but says all one day will be revealed.

“Some day I’ll explain what got off and it will be easier to understand,” said Spieth.

“I’m embracing the challenge to get back where I need to be. I practised hard but I practiced hard the wrong way. Now I’ve got to reverse that.

“I know what’s wrong with Jordan Spieth and I know what’s right with Jordan Spieth and I know how to get where I want to go within my golf game and have fun doing it.”

Spieth is part of the first full-field event of the year on the PGA Tour, part of a strong field at Waialae Country Club that includes world number four Justin Thomas and defending champion Patton Kizzire.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney

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