To the surprise of many, Jordan Spieth just joined the human race. The 23-year-old, with a putting stroke so sublime that he was a threat to make it from any distance at any time, has sidled up to the rest of us who think that a change in equipment, no matter how small, will be just the solution to all of our problems.
Spieth, perhaps the world’s best putter when it counts, started the AT&T Byron Nelson with a new putter. Spieth putted for most of his brief career with a slightly rusted-looking Scotty Cameron 009 prototype, which looks a great deal like Cameron’s Newport line of putters. In other words, it looks kind of like a Ping Anser.
Instead, Spieth put the 009 in timeout and hauled out something completely different, a Cameron T5W, which is a mallet-type putter with wing-like appendages that extend from the toe and heel.
Spieth took out the new weapon Thursday in the first round and shot a 2-under 68 at TPC Four Seasons Resort, four shots off the pace set by James Hahn and Ricky Barnes. Spieth didn’t exactly light it up, but given that he missed the cut miserably last week at The Players Championship, it was a step in the right direction.
Spieth, a nine-time winner in 4 1/2 seasons on Tour, has not been putting up to his standards lately. It was particularly noticeable and bothersome at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when he shockingly missed a handful of short putts that normally would not be a problem.
Spieth ranks 39th in strokes gained-putting this season, at plus-.371 strokes. Last year, he ranked second, at plus-.758. In 2015, when he won the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth ranked ninth in the category, at plus-.571.
This T5W experiment marks just the third time in his short career that he has putted with something other than the 009. He used a Cameron FX5R, which resembles the putter that he used Thursday, for the final two rounds the 2014 British Open and the 2015 WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
“It's nothing crazy new but obviously, you know, I've got a putter I've worn out for a number of years and it helps me line up a bit better, this one right now,” Spieth said. “That's kind of been my struggle, is lining the putter up where I want to, and so I'm falling into a nice, nice line and a nice setup, which has left me more comfortable and I just haven't quite dialed in the speed yet and I wasn't sure what that would be like today.
“(I was) a little off on the speed (today). So, hopefully I can make the adjustments.”
On Thursday, Spieth made four birdies, one of which was a 3-incher, so the jury is still out on the new putter. Many eyes will be on Spieth’s bag today to see which putter makes the start.
It would help if he’s not still wondering, as well.
Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org