AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth visited the Augusta National media interview room almost unnoticed for his assigned rendezvous with the press on Tuesday, like a guest invited to make up the numbers.
Only a handful of journalists bothered turning up to hear what the 2015 Masters champion had to say, a far cry from the not-so-long ago days when he packed out the house, seemingly destined to become an all-time great.
Though Spieth is only 25, and time is still on his side, his star has waned considerably since he captured the 2017 British Open, his third major title, leaving him only a PGA Championship short of the career grand slam of all four modern majors.
He became the second player after Jack Nicklaus to complete three legs of the slam before the age of 24, rarefied company to be sure.
Spieth almost pulled off a comeback for the ages in the final round last year, storming from nine strokes behind Patrick Reed to finish third with a closing 64.
But Spieth has regressed since then, so much so that a tie for 30th at the Texas Open on Sunday was his best stroke play result all year.
But he struck an upbeat note on Tuesday as he assessed his chances this week.
“My expectations are high,” he said.
“I feel great about the state of my game right now. I feel like my recent results aren’t a tell of where my game is actually at, and I feel I’ve made a lot of strides in the last couple of days in the tee-to-green game.
“Really just off the tee, my long game has been the only separation from being able to win golf tournaments over the last month or so.”
Not everyone is convinced.
“His golf swing has changed so much, it’s almost been completely stripped of all its athleticism,” Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said of Spieth in a conference call last week.
“His swing has completely changed, and it looks to me like he’s in a very tough spot, and who knows if he’ll ever find his way back.
“A lot of people who go down that road can’t remember how to get back home.”
That might sound a little bit negative but there are no more guarantees in golf than in any other walk of life.
Spieth of course was much more optimistic.
“I feel really good about my game, where it’s at, heading into this week,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of trust in the stuff that I’m working on... I don’t feel like there’s any added pressure this week.
“I feel kind of under the radar, which is really nice. That changes day-to-day out here though.”
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Ken Ferris