The 27-year-old "jammed" his right foot last week while preparing for the year's third major
Jordan Spieth plays down talk of ankle injury ahead of US Open bid
A resurgent Jordan Spieth was eager to allay “chatter” that he was carrying an ankle issue coming into this week’s US Open at Torrey Pines.
The 27-year-old has returned to form somewhere close to his best and enters this week ranked 24th in the world having come perilously close to dropping out of the top-100.
He last featured at the Memorial Tournament where he finished in a tie for 18th before taking a week off ahead of the year’s third major and hurting his ankle.
“I jammed my foot last week,” the three-time major winner said. “I was carrying my clubs, and I jammed my foot, my heel, leaving the course. So it’s been hurting, but it’s nothing that I’m going to do more damage to or anything like that, so I’m fine.
“I played 18 yesterday, and I should be good. I’m having a hard time pushing off on some of the drives, but I think yesterday was better than the day before, which was better than the day before. So I assume just continue treatment and rest, and it should be fine.”
At 7,698 yards, the Texan will need to drive the ball well if he is to compete, especially if the rough is as brutal as many of the players have reported.
“It’s tough anyways in January, right? Then it’s normally maybe some more moisture, but it’s obviously higher — around the greens, it’s wicked,” Spieth said.
“Spotters are going to have to really be on their game because around the greens you can hit some shots five feet off the edge of the green and really have to look hard to find your ball.
“Then the rough, it seems like there’s some graduated rough on some holes, and even that first cut on 12 and like 14 are the two that come to mind, even the first cut is mowed into you. So there’s not a whole lot you can do.
“You’re not really advancing more than a 7-iron for a lot of those lies, just trying to tumble it down the fairway.”
Despite this, Spieth believes the course has been set up brilliantly ahead of America’s national championship, and he is glad to be in a much more positive frame of mind than he was at the same event last year.
“It [Torrey Pines] seems in perfect shape for leading into this championship. For me, just trying to go through the same kind of routines I’ve been going through and get off to a good start.
“Starting out Thursday, trying to just stay real patient and recognise that it’s a US Open and par’s a pretty good score.
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“Winged Foot was, ‘oh, boy, here we go’, and I think this week I’m in a position where I think I can stand on the 10th tee on Thursday and win this golf tournament. As much as you want to say that you can fake it till you make it, I needed that confidence between then and now to really think that standing on the tee.
“I think being in a better place allows me to feel like I’m going to tee off with a little more patience that, if I do make a couple bogeys, it’s fine, because I feel like I’m going to make some birdies, versus, ‘oh, no, the wheels are coming off’.”
Much of the talk coming into this tournament has been dominated by the weird rivalry brewing between fellow major champions Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau that has shown no signs of slowing down.
Whether it’s fans yelling “Brooksy” during Bryson’s swing or the speculation that DeChambeau turned down the chance to play alongside Koepka this week, it has the golfing world talking.
And it’s not just confined to those in the media.
“We’ve certainly talked about it like other people,” Spieth told reporters. “So it’s chatter. I don’t really know how it all started. I don’t know where they’re at now. I don’t know the severity.
“I don’t think either one — they didn’t pair them this week and stuff like that, but I’m sure it will happen soon enough. Seems like people would be interested to watch that.”
Of course, Spieth himself experienced something similar with Patrick Reed in the wake of Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup win at Le Golf National, where he wanted to play with childhood friend Justin Thomas.
“Yeah, it stemmed from the Ryder Cup and wanting to play with Justin in some matches. It was more blown up than it was between he [Reed] and I. He and I never really had any person-to-person issues.
“I remember walking on, I was paired with him, of course, and just sarcastically gave him a hug.
“We’ve always played really well when we’ve been paired with each other whether it’s at a team event or we have good scoring averages individually with each other as well in regular events. I embrace playing with him. He’s a fun person to play in tournaments with.”
And asked if he thinks Bryson and Brooks can settle their differences in a similar fashion, Spieth replied: “At this point, probably not, but who knows what will happen until they play again.”
Spieth tees off on Thursday at 1.25pm local time (9.25pm BST) alongside Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler.