MONTEREY, CA. -- It was not long ago that Jordan Spieth stood where Brooks Koepka now stands.
After winning the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open in consecutive major starts, Spieth was the toast of the golf world. He owned the sport for two years, and many expected him to go on another major run after his victory at the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale.
But, as often happens in golf, Spieth's game took a dip. First, his magical putting stroke, which had propelled him to those three major titles, left him. He started missing short putts, and eventually, his tee-to-green game started to suffer and his confidence appeared to waver.
Koepka, meanwhile, has won four of the last eight majors he's played in and has become the hunted at major championships.
As the 2019 U.S. Open is set to begin at Pebble Beach on Thursday, Spieth is looking to get regain his championship form and rejoin Koepka, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson atop the golf world.
"So watching Brooks and Rory, these guys who have four major championships prior to being 30 years old and looking like they're just going to continue to do so, it's certainly a driving factor for me," Spieth told reporters Tuesday. "There's also a number of under-30 guys who are going to win a number of majors over the coming years, is certainly what it looks like.
"So there's plenty of inspiration to be the one that's trying to win these championships. And I have no trouble, personally, finding that inspiration, nor would I even if the 30-to-40-year-olds are winning. Like I just mentioned, this is our Super Bowl."
After posting a top 10 at the 2019 PGA Championship, Spieth carded an eighth-place finished at the Fort Worth Invitational and he tied for seventh at The Memorial. The 25-year-old feels his game is on the precipice of returning to major-winning form, but it's still not all the way back.
"It's just been just constant progression, almost equal amounts week to week," Spieth said. "It's not like you just -- it's not like that (indicating) and all of a sudden you're -- it's not mental, in other words. You've got to work on the physical things and get a little more consistent with them and continue -- good news is over the course of the years I've been first in tee to green strokes gained. I've been first in putting strokes gained. I can look back on the swings, how I was consistently swinging the club at those different time frames, how my putting stroke was at that time, and I can start to match it back up. And that's what I've been working on trying to do.
"And the putting stroke has been really, really fluid and nice over the last, I don't know, six months or even more. And the swing has been starting to progress that way over the last month and a half or so. But there's one thing of knowing how to do it. There's another of practicing it and then trusting it on the golf course in tournament play. And those last four weeks were big for me to have -- be able to trust it in tournament play, have those reps under pressure, see where I'm actually at and see what I need to improve on."
Despite the struggles with his game, Spieth has been able to contend at majors with less than his best due to his innate talent and ability to simplify the game.
The 25-year-old still is searching for consistency, but his near-misses at majors have given him the confidence that something great could be on the horizon.
"Everybody gets off at some point in their career, and if I can make this kind of -- if this is the last year or so results-wise, off for me, then -- and I can use these kind of blueprints of how I've gotten back as kind of my set places to go to, then things should stay in place a lot easier and not get as far off," Spieth said.
"And that's all I'm looking to do. I mean, there's no -- I felt like I was able to put myself in chances to win tournaments without really having much. So when I get it back, it's just more consistent. I don't shoot 5- or 6-under and then 3-over and 3-over and then 5-under. I shoot 2-under on the bad days and 6-, 7-under on the good days. I'm just looking for more consistency, is really number one. That's the difference in winning and not."
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While Koepka has ascended to the top of the golf world, Spieth has fought his game to try to return to those same lofty heights.
With his game rounding into form and a great track record at Pebble Beach, the 119th U.S. Open just might serve as Spieth's coming-back party.