Jordan Spieth may be heading for an early burnout if he continues at the globe-trotting pace he’s been on for the past several months.
That’s the concern Jason Day has for the world No. 1 who conceded, after an opening-round 76 at last week’s Valspar Championship, that he might need a nap.
"I’m worried about him because I don’t know if he’s playing too much and he’s doing too many things with golf and sponsor obligations that he … may get burned out and go through a rut where he doesn’t want to be on the golf course for a while," the 2015 PGA champion told reporters Tuesday from Bay Hill, where he was preparing for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
"I’ve told a few people on my team I’m kind of worried about him because of what he’s kind of putting himself under," added Day, who’s looking up at Rory McIlroy from third place in the world golf rankings.
Day’s concerns may be well founded, as Spieth has barely left himself time for a breather since taking the golf world by storm with back-to-back major victories to start 2015 and coming oh, so close to a calendar-year grand slam on his way to a five-win season. Spieth’s itinerary — all over Asia, Australia, the Middle East, the Bahamas, Hawaii and back to Asia since November — would take its toll on the most frequent of jet-setting flyers.
"We are kind of beat up mentally," Spieth told GolfChannel.com after tying for fifth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the end of January. "Physically, we're not 100 percent right now. It shows in certain places, and this week, the first day I was here, I was striping it and since then, I was just a little weak."
Thousands of miles, plus four PGA Tour starts on the U.S. mainland since running away with the season-opener at Kapalua, have allowed Spieth just one week off since finishing second at the Singapore Open on Feb. 1. Even the energetic 22-year-old conceded he might want to pump the brakes on his wanderlust.
"It's been a wild schedule," Spieth told reporters after the Monday finish in Singapore. "And what I've learned is that I won't bounce back and forth from the states over here as often as I did. It's just tough."
The back and forth between the U.S. and almost everywhere in the world may be taking a toll on the popular two-time major champion. He will skip this week’s tilt at Bay Hill, though given Monday’s media whirlwind to promote the Masters Drive, Chip & Putt competition, it would have been difficult for him to squeeze another golf tournament into his hectic schedule.
Before playing mini-golf on Live with Kelly & Michael and giving Stephen Colbert a lesson on the Late Show, Spieth had a rough week at the Valspar Championship.
Spieth, who averaged 25 tour contests in each of his three PGA Tour seasons, finished T18 at Copperhead, for his second top-20 outcome in two straight weeks. A 5-over 76 start and a ragged close, however, had him carrying himself like someone who could use a hiatus.
There was his overreaction to criticism on social media on Thursday night, responses he made while being "bored" after a "tough round," and that he later regretted.
"You'll probably never see me do that again because obviously it was seen and known and -- just really frustrating," Spieth said the next day. "There's really not a point. I should never respond to any of that, just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around no one even remembers it anyways."
After climbing back into contention with 68-67, Spieth limped home with a 73, which sparked uncharacteristic criticism of his longtime caddie.
"Really poor [performance] from both me and Michael [Greller] today," he said following Sunday’s finale. "Our decisions cost us a few shots early and all the momentum and, you know, we both get the credit when things are going good and we're going to take the fall today.
"I hit the shots," Spieth acknowledged, "but, you know, we made a couple decisions that make me look back and think, ‘Wow, we got some stuff to talk about before we get ready to go into a major.’ Bit of a bummer. But it's okay. We got plenty of time."
Sounds like a guy who, after not breaking par in seven of his last 12 rounds (including a 79 at Riviera, where he missed the cut), would benefit from some alone time.
"He has played a lot of golf, especially the last few years," said Day, who has averaged some 19 tour events per season since playing 28 in his rookie campaign. "You can look at his world ranking and how many events he’s played over the last couple years and you can see that he’s kind of wearing himself out."
No rest for the weary, though. Spieth will make back-to-back-to-back starts starting next week at the WGC-Dell Match Play, followed by the Shell Houston Open and culminating with his title defense at Augusta.