1. Spieth's stumble
Two missed cuts is certainly no reason to panic. Jordan Spieth did just that in his record-setting 2015 season to start the FedEx Cup playoffs and still went on to claim the title.
It is a bit odd to see Spieth fighting his game in recent times. The 9 he posted during the first round of the Masters was followed by an epic rally to get into contention, only to be wasted with a poor Sunday ball-striking round. (He still tied for 11th.)
After finishing fourth in the team event at the Zurich Classic with Ryan Palmer, Spieth missed the cut at the Players Championship (that's three years in a row.) Then he got the weekend off surprisingly at his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson, where he hit two balls out of bounds on his 16th hole Friday, leading to a quadruple bogey.
"Just got to figure out my putting and getting through the ball,'' Spieth said after shooting 75 to miss the cut at the tournament for the first time. "I'm standing over it, and I don't feel like I've got a stroke that's producing contact at the right time, and I put in a lot of work this week.''
Spieth's best result in seven appearances at the Nelson remains his tie for 16th as a 16-year-old amateur.
2. Putting problems
Spieth showed up at the Nelson with a new mallet putter, a move he attempted to minimize.
"It's really not that big of a deal,'' he said. "Guys switch putters every single week. It's nothing new. Just a new look for the time being.''
Then again, when a former No. 1 player laments his putting after a missed cut -- during the week when he put a different putter in the bag -- there might be some concern.
Spieth's putting stats on the PGA Tour are actually fine, suggesting this might be a temporary blip that all players endure. It is interesting to note that Spieth has dropped to seventh in the Official World Golf Ranking -- his lowest position since early 2015 when he was 10th following the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He jumped to sixth after winning the Valspar Championship, the first of his five victories that year.
The good news for Spieth is he gets back to a friendly venue this week, Colonial Country Club, where he is the defending champion.
3. Sometimes there is no explaining golf
Si Woo Kim had either missed the cut or withdrawn from eight of 13 starts in 2017 with no top-10s. Then he won the Players Championship.
And then there is Alvaro Quiros. The Spaniard had missed four cuts in his previous five starts on the European Tour and his last top-10 was a tie for fourth in Dubai in early 2016. Then he won the Rocco Forte Open -- his first victory since 2011 and the seventh of his European Tour career.
4. Phil's schedule
It is interesting that Phil Mickelson added this week's tournament at Colonial to his schedule. Although Mickelson won the tournament in 2000 and 2008, he had stopped playing it in recent years, his most recent appearance coming in 2010.
Even more eye-opening is the fact that Lefty apparently will stick to his plan of playing the two events leading into the U.S. Open. Not only will Mickelson play this week, but also next week at The Memorial, the following week at the FedEx St. Jude, then conclude with the U.S. Open -- on an Erin Hills course that is said to be an extremely long walk.
Mickelson, who said at the Players Championship he didn't play a practice round because he wanted to conserve energy, will play four straight, concluding with the U.S. Open, when he will turn 47.
5. Speaking of the U.S. Open
In what can only be described as an oddity, next month's U.S. Open at Erin Hills will play as a par-72 -- for the first time since 1992. That's right, in each of the U.S. Opens played since Tom Kite won at Pebble Beach, par has been 70 or 71. Pebble Beach hosted the Open in 2000 and 2010, but the par-5 second hole was converted to a par-4, making the course par-71. Erin Hills can play as much as 7,800 yards and will have the possibility of a drivable par-4 as well as the par-5 18th among its four closing holes.
6. Padraig commemorates Arnie
Back at Royal Birkdale this week in advance of The Open, Padraig Harrington took to the course where he won the Claret Jug in 2008. It was the first time he had returned to the venue since his victory over Ian Poulter and Greg Norman. Harrington also recreated the famous shot hit by Arnold Palmer on his way to victory at Royal Birkdale in 1961. Palmer had a seemingly impossible lie during the final round on the 16th hole, where many expected to him to pitch out. But he hit the ball on the green and went on to win by a shot, the feat commemorated with a plaque from where Harrington hit.
Attempting the famous Arnold Palmer shot from his plaque on the 16th at Royal Birkdale. pic.twitter.com/zSGFWIwGXl
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) May 22, 2017
Mr Palmer seemingly hit 6 iron back in 1961, it was a wedge today. 144 yards
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) May 22, 2017
7. Good to see you again
Mike Weir and Brendon Todd had some notable achievements over the weekend. Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, made the cut at the European Tour's Rocco Forte Open -- his first made cut since November, 2014. Weir has battled a series of injuries in recent years. Todd made the cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson, his first in 26 starts -- at the place where he got his lone PGA Tour victory in 2014.
8. The Open bubble
The Open will use several tournaments on the PGA Tour and European Tour leading up to the event for qualifying purposes, but those in the top 50 in the world as of this coming Monday who are not otherwise exempt will not have to worry. Among those looking to get to Royal Birkdale through this category are Adam Hadwin (49th), Brendan Steele (51st), Charley Hoffman (53rd) and Brian Harman (54th).
9. Big win for Billy
Billy Horschel's playoff victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson was important for more than one reason. Not only did he win for the first time since the 2014 Tour Championship -- where he captured the FedEx Cup after two playoff victories -- but he noted some family concerns that had been lingering.
Horschel disclosed afterward that he had been dealing with numerous personal issues over the past year. Those were revealed when his wife, Brittany, tweeted about her struggles on Monday.
— brittany horschel (@britt_horschel) May 22, 2017