HONOLULU—Jordan Spieth showed up in Hawaii three years ago hopeful that a new year would be more of a continuation than a fresh start.
Back then, he was coming off two majors, five victories, the FedEx Cup, and he was No. 1 in the world.
He's in a different spot at the Sony Open this year.
Spieth went through an entire year without a trophy for the first time as a pro. He didn't have even a mathematical chance at the FedEx Cup because he didn't make it to the Tour Championship for the first time.
Spieth starts the year at No. 17.
So is this a fresh start or a continuation? In his case, a little of both.
“Thinking of something as a fresh start, that you can throw away some of the struggles from last season, is beneficial,” he reasoned yesterday.
“But I was doing really good work as the season went on where I was focusing my work, which was in the putting," Spieth added. ”So I don't want to necessarily wash all that away.
“I was doing the right stuff," he stressed. ”It's then just a continuation of that work as I start to dial it in more and more.
“So yes and no," Spieth concluded. "I guess mentally, yes, but physically, no.”
Spieth wasn't even sure he was coming to Oahu until a few weeks ago. He wasn't eligible for the winners-only field at Kapalua. He also got married over U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, which cut into a typical schedule of preparations for the new year.
As such, his expectations aren't as high as they might be.
“Just after Christmas," he said of his decision to play the Sony Open. ”I had a good day practising and said, 'All right, I'm going.'
"A couple of days after that it was, 'Dang it, I'm not ready.' Couple of days after that, 'Yeah.'
“I'm really glad I'm here, whether it goes well or not,” he noted.
The Sony Open starts to as the first full field of 2019, with 23 players who were at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week.
That includes Justin Thomas, who won at Waialae two years ago by opening with a 59 and breaking the PGA Tour's record for 72 holes with a 253 total.
Patrick Reed also is in the field, the first time Reed and Spieth have been in the same tournament since the Ryder Cup—remembered as much for the European victory as Reed blaming Spieth for them not playing together in France.
Spieth and Thomas went 3-1 as partners while Reed and Tiger Woods went 0-2.
“I was a bit surprised,” Spieth said about Reed's post-Ryder Cup comments.
“It didn't bother me," he noted. "I was just like, 'Whoa.' There was nothing lead up to that . . . nothing told me that was going to happen.”
Spieth doesn't expect any awkward moments—even if they're paired with each other at some point.
Reed generally gets along well with everyone inside the ropes, though he tends to practice by himself.
“It's not like he's ever been extremely cordial to individuals, anyway," Spieth reasoned. ”I don't think anything will be any different. . . .
"I don't think anything will change with how we've talked to each other.
“It will be interesting if we're competing on Sunday, what will be talked about outside of us,” he added.
“Between us, it won't be anything extra than what there always is, which is peers trying to win a tournament.”