One of the best stories to come out of the 2021 season was Jordan Spieth’s resurgence as a world-beater. Prior to his victory at the Valero Texas Open in April, Spieth had endured nearly four years of winless drought. The former World No. 1 bottomed out at No. 92 in the world ranking as recently as January of this year.
But a string of good finishes, starting with a T4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, seemed to indicate that things were looking up. After Spieth’s comeback victory — the 12th PGA title of his career — he finished T3 at the Masters and added two more runner-up finishes: the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Open.
Spieth is now ranked No. 11 in the world, and it’s clear that he’s “back.” But how did he manage to climb back from the abyss? On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Spieth’s longtime coach, Cameron McCormick, offered his take.
Spieth is similar to Tiger Woods in that his swing has been through several iterations, McCormick said. And by 2016, Spieth has strayed pretty far from his blueprint. Despite Spieth’s successful 2017 season, during which he won two Tour events and the Open, McCormick said Spieth’s swing was still pretty off-track from where it needed to be. As time went on, McCormick said Spieth had his own ideas about what he wanted to do with his swing and became his own primary coach.
“I became a more secondary instructor-coach,” McCormick said. “He became less focused on the things that made him great, which was an ability to control the golf ball, and an ability to make an impact happen.”
By mid-2020, McCormick said Spieth’s team convinced Spieth that chasing a form-focused swing technique — as in, using the setup and backswing as the platform to produce the impact he’s looking for — was not the path for him.
“Eventually, he bought into: ball backwards, impact backwards,” McCormick said. “A belief system that said, let’s solve problems that relate to the downswing to produce a sensation at impact that agrees with who I am as a player.”
McCormick says his work with Spieth now is reminiscent of the Spieth he remembers from 2013-2015.
“He’s really happy with the progress,” McCormick said. “Jordan believes that through difficulty you become better.”
For more from McCormick, including what he thought was the most striking feature of Spieth’s game when he first met him, and why some star junior players regress when they get to college, check out the full interview below.