Spotlight on: Jordan Spieth ready to shine again at the Sentry Tournament of Champions

The three-time Major winner bounced back to form last year and can bring that into 2022 by making another title challenge in the showdown at The Plantation Course.

With his strong record at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking Jordan Spieth is always part of the furniture at The Plantation Course.

A player who annually makes the January trip to Maui to contest the opening event of the calendar year.

Perhaps he's missed one or two appearances in this 'for winners only' event after a dip in form maybe?

Well, not quite. The stark fact is that Spieth will be making his first start here for four years this week.

By definition, he earns his spot in the field this time thanks to a win, that victory coming in April's Texas Open.

But now he's finally back at The Plantation Course, Spieth isn't just happy to enjoy the spectacular coastal views once more. He's here to grab the trophy.

An excellent past record at the course suggests that's definitely on the cards this week.

Spieth is also happy with his prep as he revealed in Thursday's press conference.

Spieth on the Plantation Course

"It's obviously a fun course to play. I mean, every hole you either look forward or you turn around and you get some of the most amazing views we get all year.

"And then a lot of slope, Bermuda grass, a lot of wind, kind of got to shot-make a little bit.

"Then you got to hit putts aggressively and play a significant amount of break a lot of time and I kind of like when that's the case.

"So certainly looking to have a chance come the weekend and it's a course that when I look back on the times I've played here if you kind of really take advantage of the off-season as building up and trying to be sharp for January 1st, you can take advantage here with maybe some guys who were taking more of a break."

Spieth on bedding in swing changes

"I feel really good. I feel like this is the first off-season in quite a few years where it felt like I was very confident each day going out, that what I was doing was pushing me to be better.

"Instead of going out, getting frustrated over a couple days, and trying something new, I stuck with the exact same game plan and just tried to continue to sharpen it.

"If I could get one percent better each day, I went out with the idea that that was very feasible, given I wouldn't be second-guessing anything and instead felt very confident in what I was working on and what the final product is.

"So it's getting there. It feels better than it has all year, all last year, and it will just be about kind of getting out and playing and making adjustments from there because when you're on the range or playing at home, it's a little different than when you get the pins that we get tucked and just shots you got to trust and stuff like that. And then scoring, just getting out and scoring.

"So I'm excited to kind of get into this season and see if I can improve on last year."

Spieth on not having green reading books this season

"We've never had them at Augusta, and I seem to find myself in a really good space on the greens there, really feeling putts. I'm one that's used it because why wouldn't you use 'em? More for a reference point and a lot of times more for speed than trying to dial in an AimPoint situation or a line, so I'm perfectly fine with the changes.

"I think that to me, putting you have to read it right, you have to put a stroke on it and you have to hit it with the right speed.

"I thought with the green reading materials it took one of those three skills away from it and I think that it's a skill that I would say is an advantage of mine and so I'm excited to see what it can mean as far as strokes gained compared to the field on the greens."

Spieth in the outright

With plenty of big names in opposition, Spieth is 20/1 in the outright market this week.

That looks generous given his course record.

The 28-year-old scored a majestic eight-shot win here in 2016, carding an incredible 30-under.

Either side of that he was runner-up on debut in 2014 and third in 2017.

On his only other appearance, Spieth was ninth in 2018 so he's a definite course horse.

Add in the confidence from last year when he ended a four-year win drought and banked a second (Open Championship) and a third (The Masters) in the Majors and he looks ready to excel.

Spieth in the first round

A two-over 75 on day one cost him a better finish the last time he played here but Spieth has twice roared out of the blocks at this course.

He shot opening 7-under 66s in his first two visits. The first of those gave him a piece of the 18-hole lead while he was second after round one in the other.

Fast starts were a bit of a theme for him last year and he was the first-round leader at the Bryon Nelson and the Charles Schwab Challenge, both times shooting 63.

Spieth in a matchbet

Spieth is pitched in a 72-holer against current Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.

The duo played in the same event 17 times in 2021 and Spieth came out on top 12 times to Matsuyama's five, including each of the last three.

In this event though, despite Spieth's good record, Matsuyama has shot lower in the two years when they both played it (2017 and 2018).

It's close however: Matsuyama finished second and fourth to Spieth's third and ninth.

Conclusion

Matsuyama looks a tough matchbet opponent.

But there's definitely scope to back Spieth in both the outright and first-round leader markets.

He's 20/1 to lead after 18 holes but as that market is a little bit more of a lottery, it may be best just to play him on the outrights at the same price.

READ MORE: Justin Thomas targets a third victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions

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