ATLANTA – The two Js, Jordan (Spieth) and Jason (Day), have been joined at the money clip lately.
Dating to the PGA Championship, they've been paired together for seven rounds, enabling two of golf's ascendant stars to measure each other at close range.
And they're paired again in Thursday's first round of the Tour Championship. They've spent more time together lately than some newlyweds.
The proximity has not been good for J. Spieth's self-esteem. J. Day has been kicking the pleats right out his pants. Beaten him in each of those encounters, by a cumulative 31 strokes.
It got so bad that Spieth shot 64-66 in the first two rounds of the BMW Championship last week and still lost seven strokes to his playing partner.
"It's very motivating. Yeah. Definitely," Spieth said Wednesday. "It's frustrating. When I say it's frustrating, I'm frustrated in my own game and the fact that I didn't have the patience needed in order to make more birdies and get further under par.
"I mean, he destroyed my score in those rounds, for lack of a better term. It is very motivating. Because of my personality, I don't like getting beat in anything. I'm very stubborn. It wasn't fun to watch. But when it's not fun, it motivates me. It makes me want to get back to the level I was playing at this whole year, to get on top of my game and see if the top of my game can beat the top of anybody else's game when they're at their best."
The top of his game was pretty much at a height unreachable by all but the most sophisticated of military aircraft. Spieth, of course, blitzed the field at the Masters and then followed with a victory at the U.S. Open. All pretty heady stuff for a 22-year-old.
So, when Spieth missed back-to-back cuts in the first two rounds of the PGA Tour playoffs and Day began his ridiculous run, the kid started fielding questions about the chinks in his game. Something he never really had to address, publicly anyway.
Relax, he told the golf world. A two-week dip should not be considered a career-altering slump. Besides, he has a perfectly logical explanation for it, centering on his reaction to becoming the world's No. 1-ranked player for the first time following the PGA Championship.
"I was a little caught up in just trying to be there and force being there (at the top), each hole I played," Spieth said. "In reality, I hope to be out here for another 20-plus years. And if that's the case, there's going to be a lot of change that happens. So, the quicker I can accept that, the easier it can be to free me up and to play my own game. Because I wasn't playing my own game the past couple weeks."
Signs of vintage Spieth may show themselves this week at East Lake.
Spieth likes the place, said it has the same sort of feel to him as Augusta National. The contours and composition of the putting surfaces here seem to comfort him, like the swales of his own bed.
"I believe on these greens that I can get back to the way I was – putting like I believe I should be able to putt because these are the type of greens I grew up on," he said.
And he came to East Lake working like he was trying to save his job. He was on the practice range at East Lake early Monday, and beating balls again with serious intent Tuesday.
On display was the kind of commitment that prompted Rory McIlroy, when asked to compare today's stars with those of yore, to mention Spieth and Jack Nicklaus in the same breath. "Sort of like Jack, methodical, sort of does everything that way," McIlroy said.
If Spieth has decided to treat this event with anything close to the kind of vigor he did the big four then the kid just might be OK. If he can just squint hard enough and pretend the Tour Championship is big in a major way.
"Why wouldn't we?" he said. "I've got enough strength left, I've got enough mental strength left, let's do what we can to prepare to give everything we have this week."
Sounds like he is just a little bit tired of playing backup bass guitar in the J-Boys Band.
This article was written by Steve Hummer from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.