Dropping down the world rankings is a bit like losing your footing on a snow-covered mountain trail and skiting you-know-what over elbow towards the edge of a precipice.

Pretty soon, you’re going to hurtle over it. In golfing terms, losing your place in the top 50 of the global order is the equivalent of toppling off the ledge and Jordan Spieth has just about required the help of the Mountain Rescue to arrest his particular slide.

For a player who was once perched at the summit of the world rankings for 26 weeks during a period of majestic pomp and prosperity, the young, supremely talented Texan’s slither has been something of constant background narrative amid affairs at the sharp end of the PGA Tour. Not that he’s been keeping check.

“I don’t know where I’m at in the world ranking,” said Spieth, who moved from 55th and back into 49th after an encouraging share of ninth at Pebble Beach last Sunday.


“Don’t care, don’t look at it. I’m just trying to step up and win a golf tournament.”

Winning, as Tiger Woods’ marketing gurus used to say, takes care of everything. The problem, of course, is that Spieth hasn’t done that for nearly three years.

His last success was that memorable, epic triumph in the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale, where he flirted with complete disaster but mounted a jaw-dropping salvage operation from the practice range and surged through the last few holes with magical, clinical authority.

Since then, Spieth has tinkered with this, tweaked some of that and trialled a bit of the other in his bid to get back in the swing of things.

From mixing up his schedule and toying with his putting stroke to focusing on his wayward drives and his grip, Spieth has tried all manner of things in an effort to change his fortunes during a well-documented barren spell that’s left all and sundry scratching their heads like Stan Laurel standing over a plugged lie.


Spieth will always be judged on the imperious highs he reached a few years ago. This is the man, after all, who came to the last hole of the 2015 Open at St Andrews still in with a chance of completing the third leg of the Grand Slam, having already won the US Open and the Masters that year.

The levels of his accomplishments mean he’ll never be a forgotten man but, for the last few months, he’s been a floundering one.

Once you’re embedded in the top 50 of the world it can becomes something of a cushy sinecure of unbridled riches and opportunity.

Spiral out of that giddy echelon, though, and you very quickly lose a variety of long-standing privileges. It’s the golfing equivalent of doing a Harry and Meghan.


Phil Mickelson, the multiple major winner, had been in the top 50 for 26 years until the tail end of 2019 when he was nudged down to 51st. Within two events he had plummeted to 86th.

Two back-to-back third place finishes has got the 49-year-old on the right track again while Spieth’s best-of-the-day 67 at Pebble Beach could just be the catalyst that ignites some momentum. It was a round in which every element of his game clicked and the tour’s statistics had him top of the various strokes gained categories.

Spieth now tees-up in tomorrow’s Genesis Invitational, an event in which he closed with a crippling 81 last year.

Perhaps this week, the Genesis can be the start of something special?