AUGUSTA, Ga. – Sure, Jordan Spieth failed to make the weekend at the Shell Houston Open, but Spieth’s first missed cut since last year’s Players Championship afforded the 2015 Masters champion a refreshing opportunity.
“I played with my dad (Shawn Spieth) on Sunday, which was a pretty incredible experience,” Spieth said. “I’ve played with him before, but to play starting Masters week, to play with my dad, that was really cool.”
No player wants to miss cuts, especially the week before the Masters. But for those who do, it’s hardly the end of the world; it’s just about how you handle it.
Last year, Lee Westwood and Brooks Koepka missed out on the weekend in Houston only to finish T-2 and T-21, respectively at Augusta National. Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera won back-to-back green jackets, in 2008 and ’09, respectively, each after missing the cut the previous week.
“You never like to miss a cut,” said Adam Scott, who missed by a shot last week in Houston. “But, you know, I think like I’ve heard Jordan talk about, you got to use it to your advantage.”
Like Spieth, Scott certainly has. The 2013 Masters winner noticed his setup was off and was causing him to compensate during his swing. So he watched videos from last year to rediscover his proper setup and get his body and spine angles back in the right position.
“For me, my whole game is based around my own fundamentals which starts with my setup position,” Scott said. “If I get myself in a good athletic setup position, I naturally swing the club quite well with no thought. … Although it felt a little bit tricky for a day there on Saturday in Houston, (my swing has) really fallen into place and I feel strong over the ball, like I can make a confident move through it and I’m not steering the ball toward the target.”
After his range session Saturday in Houston, Scott flew to Augusta Saturday night and then hit the course Sunday in “beautiful conditions and really found the game I was looking for.”
Henrik Stenson enters his 12th Masters having missed two straight cuts, at Bay Hill and in Houston. Stenson said he feels “all right.” He missed the cut by five shots in Houston and has never finished better than T-14 at Augusta National.
“I’ve put a lot of effort into the prep work this year, probably as much as ever,” Stenson said. “I guess that the previous couple of tournaments, I just haven’t performed the way I would have liked to, which is negative in terms of building some momentum and confidence out on the golf course. But at the same time, I’ve been working trying to find that form and hit my shots better and putt better and everything else.
“Hopefully I can still put it together this week. I feel like it’s not too far away and I’m certainly no worse off this year than I’ve been any other year coming in here.”
Other players playing this week who missed the cut in Houston: Patrick Reed missed by two; J.B. Holmes didn’t break 73; Matt Kuchar shot 77 in the second round and missed by six; Lee Westwood was seven off the cut line; Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Ernie Els also failed to make the weekend.
But don’t count those players out, according to Spieth. When Spieth tied for second in his Masters debut, he had missed the cut in Houston.
Said Spieth after a Friday 77 in Houston: “A few years ago we missed the cut here and we had a chance to win on Sunday, so I’m not considering myself out of next week. I think we know and the other players that are playing next week know that we strike fear in others next week.”
Of course, when Spieth won in 2015, he tied for second the Sunday before. When Phil Mickelson won in 2006 he won the previous week’s BellSouth Classic. And when Bubba Watson won his second green jacket, in 2014, he didn’t play the week before, but he did WD at Bay Hill after shooting an opening 83, his only competitive round in a month leading into Augusta. Six of the last 10 Masters winners either took a week off or made the cut the week before teeing it up at Augusta National.
You can bet guys like Spieth, Stenson and Scott would love to be in Dustin Johnson’s shoes right now, having won three straight and playing arguably the best golf in the world. But the key to overcoming recent poor play is staying confident, Scott said, especially in golf, where players can find something in an instant that turns their fortunes around.
“Although I don’t know how a weekend would have worked for me at Houston, it could have been a good thing, it could have been a tough thing; it wasn’t easy out there,” Scott said. “I haven’t quite got my game together, obviously, but I use those couple days to my advantage and feel very comfortable with where things are at.
“A missed cut by one shot is nothing. It’s all fractions in this game. So you can’t let it affect your confidence too much. Like I said, I’m just trying to save my best stuff for here.”
Said Stenson: “Quite a few times I’ve come here with pretty poor form … and that’s certainly not going to help. Fingers crossed, we’re in better shape this time around.”