DORAL, Fla. – The top three golfers in the world are playing together in the WGC-Cadillac Championship Thursday and Friday and all three have faced the same basic question this week at Trump National Doral:
What's wrong with your golf game?
No. 1 Jordan Spieth started 2016 with a commanding victory in Hawaii, but people have been focused on his missed cut two weeks ago in California, where he shot an 8-over-par 79 the first round before coming back with a 68.
No. 2 Jason Day won five times last year, including the PGA Championship, but has a tie for 10th, a tie for 11th and a missed cut this year.
No. 3 Rory McIlroy's best finish in four events is a tie for 11th and he missed the cut last week at the Honda Classic at PGA National.
"Los Angeles, that was a bummer," said Spieth, who noted that his swing is sound, but his decision-making was not. "I felt I was maybe playing a little too aggressive in L.A."
Given all the water and trouble at the Blue Monster, it's the ideal venue for Spieth to keep his aggressiveness in check. He opened with a 3-under 69 on Thursday.
"It's very good practice for respecting a golf course," said Spieth, who tied for 17th last year and 34th the year before.
His caddie, Michael Greller, reminded Spieth of how he respected Augusta National and Chambers Bay, where Spieth said he played his best golf last year in winning the Masters and U.S. Open.
"Michael told me, 'Hey, the difference I saw in the recent few events versus your major championships last year was the respect you had for the golf course and not taking too many chances, let them just come to you, and then when you start to really get into a rhythm, then you can take a couple chances,' " Spieth said.
"Here, if you try and take a couple chances that you shouldn't, it's not just bogey that comes into play. You make 6s, 7s and I think I've even made an 8 here on a par 4 before.
"So yeah, because of the trouble, short, long, left and right on almost every hole, you really have to pick your spots. And that's what I need to start doing more of as we play tougher golf courses and prepare for the majors."
Day, who opened with an even-par 72, said he just needs to play more tournaments for his game to get where it needs to be. He intentionally took off three months to be with his wife, son and infant daughter.
"It's obviously not the way I wanted to start," Day said. "I wanted to come out pretty strong and keep that momentum going from last year, but it's hard to keep that momentum rolling when you go from playing such great golf and then having three months off and only picking up the golf club once, which is obviously on me, because I needed that time off to spend with the family."
Now that he's back playing for a while, Day said his game will take care of itself.
"I'm not panicking. There's other guys out there that want to play their way into form. I'm just taking it a tournament at a time and really just trying to prepare the best I can for this week," Day said.
"I don't think the mental game is as sharp right now, but it will be. I'm not going to be playing like this for the rest of the year. I know I'm going to pick it up here in a bit and I feel like the work that I'm putting into the game right now, it will pay off."
After McIlroy missed the Honda cut, he changed his putting grip over the weekend, going to left hand low, which he said will help keep his right hand from taking over his putting stroke.
He said the new grip felt "really, really good" and he's going to use it all four days of this event, which has no cut.
McIlroy, who shot a 1-under 71 on Thursday, added that mental errors did more damage to his scores at the Honda than poor putting and he's happy with the overall state of his game.
"I made more birdies the first two days than Rickie [Fowler] did, and Rickie was leading the tournament," said McIlroy, who had nine birdies to Fowler's eight, but also had six bogeys, two double bogeys and a triple bogey that cost him a total of 13 shots while Fowler was bogey-free.
"If I can limit my mistakes and just play a little more smartly or conservatively ... I still felt like there was enough good in there to at least be there for the weekend and play."
This article was written by Steve Waters from The Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.