Spieth seek­ing fresh start

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Doug FER­GU­SON

HONOLULU — Jor­dan Spieth showed up in Hawaii three years ago hope­ful that a new year would be more of a con­tin­u­a­tion than a fresh start. Back then, he was com­ing off two ma­jors, five vic­to­ries, the FedEx Cup and he was No. 1 in the world.

He’s in a dif­fer­ent spot at the Sony Open. Spieth went through an en­tire year with­out a tro­phy for the first time as a pro. He didn’t have even a math­e­mat­i­cal chance at the FedEx Cup be­cause he didn’t make it to the Tour Cham­pi­onship for the first time. Spieth starts the year at No. 17.

So is this a fresh start or a con­tin­u­a­tion? In his case, a lit­tle of both. “Think­ing of some­thing as a fresh start, that you can throw away some of the strug­gles from last sea­son, is ben­e­fi­cial,” he said Wed­nes­day. “But I was do­ing re­ally good work as the sea­son went on where I was fo­cus­ing my work, which was in the putting. So I don’t want to nec­es­sar­ily wash all that away. I was do­ing the right stuff. It’s then just a con­tin­u­a­tion of that work as I start to dial it in more and more.

“So yes and no,” he con­cluded. “I guess men­tally, yes. But phys­i­cally, no.”

He wasn’t even sure he was com­ing to Oahu un­til a few weeks ago. Spieth wasn’t el­i­gi­ble for the win­ners-only field at Ka­palua. He got mar­ried over Thanks­giv­ing week­end, which cut into a typ­i­cal sched­ule of prepa­ra­tions for the new year. His ex­pec­ta­tions aren’t as high as they might be.

“Just af­ter Christ­mas,” he said of his de­ci­sion to play the Sony Open. “I had a good day prac­tic­ing and said, ‘All right, I’m go­ing.’ A cou­ple of days af­ter that it was, ‘Dang it, I’m not ready.’ Cou­ple of days af­ter that, ‘Yeah.’ I’m re­ally glad I’m here, whether it goes well or not.”

The Sony Open starts to­day as the first full field of 2019, with 23 play­ers who were at the Sen­try Tour­na­ment of Cham­pi­ons last week. That in­cludes Justin Thomas, who won at Wa­ialae two years ago by open­ing with a 59 and break­ing the PGA Tour’s record for 72 holes with a 253 to­tal.

Pa­trick Reed also is in the field, the first time Reed and Spieth have been in the same tour­na­ment since the Ry­der Cup, re­mem­bered as much for the Euro­pean vic­tory as Reed blam­ing Spieth for them not play­ing to­gether in France. Spieth and Thomas went 3-1 as part­ners, while Reed and Tiger Woods went 0-2. “I was a bit sur­prised,” Spieth said about Reed’s post-Ry­der Cup com­ments. “It didn’t bother me. I was just like, ‘Whoa.’ There was noth­ing lead up to that... noth­ing told me that was go­ing to hap­pen.”

AP PHOTO

Jor­dan Spieth watches his putt on the first green dur­ing the Pro-Am round of the Sony Open on Wed­nes­day, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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