Jordan Spieth will treat the Players Championship like the major it so desperately wants to be as he looks to improve on his curious record at Sawgrass.
On his tournament debut in 2014, Spieth played his first 58 holes in 14 under par without dropping a shot, but since then is a combined 10 over par for 122 holes with three straight missed cuts.
Spieth will partner Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy in the first two rounds, tomorrow and Friday, of the so-called “fifth major”.
Asked to put his finger on the reason behind such strange statistics, the three-time major winner told a pre-tournament press conference: “I love this place, I love the golf course but if you’re not on it’s (about) a lot of small areas.
“Small areas to hit your tee shots, small areas to hit your second shots and you really have to think through the place and let it come to you. This is not a place to go out and try and force birdies and I think that’s where I’ve gone the last few years that’s gotten me in trouble.
“A good example would be like on (hole) number one here, when the pin is front left. If you’re not in the fairway you can’t get anywhere near the hole, but I’ll miss it in the left rough and (still) try and land it on that tier right next to the hole.
“It’s just situations like that where the patience I seem to display at Augusta (National, venue for the Masters), out here the last couple years I just haven’t had that patience.
“I haven’t approached it like I approach the major championship-calibre golf and this tournament and this golf course are major-championship calibre and therefore I need to go in with a different game plan and mindset and stick to it on the golf course.
“The first year I played here I almost won it and so I just kind of assumed that it would come easy to me. I kind of looked at the last few years and just kind of came in thinking, ‘Oh, if I miss it in a tough spot I’ll get up and down’.
“Historically that’s happened, but historically now that hasn’t happened. I’m ready to kind of get back on that first-year path but doing it the right way.”
Meanwhile, Edoardo Molinari is dreaming of tasting victory on home soil as the European Tour returns to Verdura Golf Club for this week’s Rocco Forte Sicilian Open.
The 37-year-old has three European Tour titles to his name, with last year’s Trophee Hassan II win following two victories in Scotland in 2010.
“It’s great to be back in Italy,” he said.
“I’ve brought the family down and we’re staying at this fantastic resort. The weather is beautiful so I’m really looking forward to this week.
“It’s one of only two events on Italian soil so it would be fantastic to win on home ground.
“The venue is fantastic, everyone who played last year really enjoyed it.”
Fellow countryman Matteo Manassero is also happy to be home and is looking to build on an encouraging week at the Volvo China Open at the end of April.
Manassero finished 20th in his last European Tour outing in Beijing and is hoping to string four solid rounds together once again this week.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to the week. It’s always great to come to Italy.
“The venue is wonderful and the golf course is really nice.
“I want to think that I’m trending in the right direction. The game is getting much better. Myself, the mental side, is getting much better.
“I’m more confident so I would say that’s all I need and now I really hope to have some tournaments where I put four rounds together.”