Spieth and Fowler: Golf Prodigies Seek a Way Back From the Wilderness

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Fowler’s biggest hobby away from golf has been fishing. His slump has curtailed that as well.

“A lot of people have asked, ‘Have you been able to fish much at home?’” he said. “But not really, no, because the days that I have off I just take completely off. Everything else has been workout, therapy and golf.”

Fowler, as optimistic a player as there is on the PGA Tour, smiled. It is his go-to reaction. But even he had to concede, “It’s frustrating.”

For Spieth, whose world ranking dropped to 82nd at the end of last season, troubles with his golf game emerged in 2018-19. First he tried just to find his way back to the promised land, a place he had inhabited as a 20-year-old, when he was three strokes away from becoming the youngest Masters winner ever. In time, as Spieth failed to return to the winner’s circle, myriad issues were cited: his alignment, his putting, his confidence, his ability to finish on the weekends of tournaments.

Away from the golf course, Spieth worked as furtively as he could on a subtle but consequential swing modification, and on something simpler: consistency. In his last three tournaments, he has been rejuvenated, tying for fourth, third and 15th, his best three-event stretch since mid-2019.

That rally has led reporters to ask if Spieth has tried to counsel Fowler, who in his last 10 events dating to October 2020 has missed the cut four times and finished outside the top 25 four other times.

Spieth said the two had talked with each other, and he acknowledged that there were similarities between his struggles and Fowler’s. But in many ways, Spieth said, it still comes back to the notion that change is hard in golf, even for those once called prodigies.

“He’s trying to make changes with an end goal to be more consistent and better than he ever was — and they’re significant changes,” Spieth said. “So it’s not going to be easy. You can’t just continue to compete and win while you’re trying to make big changes. These guys are too good out here.”

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