Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney has claimed that former world No.1 and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth “visibly has the yips”.
Spieth is in Hawaii for this week’s Sony Open, where he is making his first start of 2019. The 25-year-old will be hoping that this year goes better than 2018, where he failed to win during the calendar year for the first time in his career, missed the season-ending Tour Championship and slipped outside of the world top ten for the first time since 2014.
However, speaking to ESPN.com before the tournament got underway, Haney offered a rather damning observation on one particular part of Spieth’s game.
"He's got to get his putting figured out," said Haney, who coached Woods to six of his 14 major championships. "I think he will. But he has to. And I think that spilled into the rest of his game. When I watch him putt, he visibly has the yips. You watch his hands on short putts and there is a tremor in there.
“I don't care if the putt goes in or doesn't. He was centre-cut on his first putt at the Ryder Cup. But his hands were shaking. He had to miss more short putts than anybody on tour."
Spieth’s putting – such a strength in 2015 when he won back-to-back majors and came within a handful of shots of completing the calendar year grand slam – undeniably went backwards last year. He ended the season ranked 123rd in Strokes Gained: Putting. That’s in marked contrast to 2016, where he finished second in that category.
He opened the Sony Open overnight with a three-over 73 to sit in a tie for 127th, 12 shots off the early pace set by Canadian Adam Svensson.