Jordan Spieth hopes the imagination required to play bone-dry Carnoustie will bring out his best as he defends his title at The Open this week.
After returning on Monday a replica of the Old Claret Jug — which champions are allowed to keep for 51 weeks — Spieth spoke about how his game had become bogged down by technical thoughts during his busy stretch of tournaments in May and June.
But refreshed after three weeks off — spent partly on a beach holiday in Mexico — the American three-times major champion is ready to go again and upbeat about his prospects.
“I needed a break,” Spieth told reporters on Monday. “I was kind of dragging along and playing a pretty heavy schedule and I needed to get away from the game, which I did.
“Coming to an Open championship requires a lot of feel and imagination and I think that’s what I needed a bit of in my game.
“I’d gotten very technical and very into making everything perfect instead of the way I normally play.”
Carnoustie, baked-out after a summer drought, will certainly provide a starkly different test than American players routinely face on the invariably lush and soft courses served up almost weekly on the PGA Tour.
The parched fairways should allow Spieth to play to his strength, which is precision iron play and a deft short game, and he spent last week honing his technique at home in Texas.
“Getting away from the game allowed me to come back with a natural set-up,” he said.
“It was nice to start from scratch, almost like wet concrete with parts of my game.
“I attacked the places that really needed some strong work. I feel like I’m in a (good) position now with every part of my game.”
The 24-year-old Spieth’s was barely a teenager the last time the Open was held at Carnoustie in 2007.
He remembers watching Padraig Harrington beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff, but apart from the 18th hole recalls little of the course.
He does, however, know a famous anecdote of Ben Hogan’s performance here in 1953, when his fellow Texan took the more dangerous but direct line between bunkers and out-of-bounds markers at the par-five sixth hole in each round.
“The (par-three) eighth hole, someone told me it could land on the green and (end) out-of-bounds,” Spieth said. “But other than that I don’t know much.”