AUGUSTA — Jordan Spieth was making his way from the clubhouse to the practice green on Friday, minutes before his second round tee time. He was carrying his 009 Scotty Cameron putter in his left hand like he was toting an expensive violin, but also looking dazed, as if he’d just walked away from a car crash.

No one saw him coming, so he had to weave his way through a thick crowd beneath the big oak tree that stands in front of the Augusta National clubhouse. Most of the people in the crowd didn’t know he had come through, even as he brushed their shoulders and tried to squeeze through gaps like a harried running back in search of a first down. If not for the putter and the golf balls in his hand, or his caddie hustling a few steps behind, Spieth could have been just another patron.

Next year’s Masters will mark 10 years since Spieth won a green jacket. And while it’s way too soon to write his golfing obit, to declare him cooked and done for, it’s getting harder (and harder) to remember a time when the crowds used to part for him at Augusta like he was a Golfing Moses.

True Believers will point out that he finished T-4 at the Masters in 2023, or that he finished T-3 in 2021, and they’re right, there are some yellow boxes on his Wikipedia page. But Spieth’s volatility — always a concern, even in his best days — feels like it is exacerbating.

He missed the cut at the Masters for the second time in three years after rounds of 79-74, and what this portends for his season is hard to say, but it opens up an interesting question:

Are the good old days of Jordan Spieth behind us … for good?

First, let’s begin with a caveat. He’s battling some injuries, particularly inflammation to a tendon in his wrist, and he doesn’t love talking about it. You can see Spieth wincing in pain on certain shots, flexing his wrist and arm, trying to shake out something other than frustration. It was a problem in 2023, and remains a problem this year, although he says it’s not as bad as it was.

“It's an ECU tendon issue that unfortunately I've not fixed, but when it flares up, it flares up for like 24 hours,” Spieth said on Tuesday of Masters week. “When it happens, I can’t do anything that day.”

Was Spieth’s wrist bugging him this week? It’s hard to say. After finishing his second round, he signed his scorecard and hugged his wife, then declined to chat with reporters on his way toward the locker room.

“I’m good guys, thanks,” he said, nodding but never breaking stride.

Conditions were also brutal at times, with wind swirling violently and irregularly. But Ludvig Åberg, who played in Spieth’s group and might be his polar opposite in terms of consistency and temperament, navigated the course just fine, making six birdies on his way to a 69, the lowest round of the day.

“I always like to keep it very simple,” Åberg said. “I try not to do too much. But when it's blowing as much as this, you almost have to fight it a little bit just to keep it somewhat straight.”

In the absence of explanations from Spieth, it’s tempting to fill the void with conjecture. But it might be more damning to use cold hard facts. Spieth's score of 9-over par was three shots worse than the two-round total posted by Jose Maria Olazabal, a 58-year-old who no longer plays competitive golf. Olazabal assumed he’d missed the cut when he finished, but as scores got increasingly harder late in the day, he suddenly snuck inside the cutline.

“When I came here early in the week, I would have never imagined I would be able to play the level of golf I played today,” said Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999.

If you want to pinpoint where the tournament went from mediocre to disastrous for Spieth, it’s easy to find it. On Friday morning, he was wrapping up his first round and had a wedge into the 15th green for his 3rd shot. But the shot flew several yards too far, and then trickled down the hill, leaving him a nervy chip — back toward the water — from behind the green.

It got ugly from there. Spieth tried to land a shot into the fringe, but it kept rolling.

And rolling.

And rolling.

It didn’t stop once it got past the pin either, although it did slow down several times once it reached the downslope, teasing (or taunting) Spieth on its way to the pond. Instead of replaying the shot, he elected to go to the other side of the pond and try from that angle, but that pitch went long and left him with essentially the same chip he’d already gotten wet.

He elected to use a putter for his seventh stroke, stomping after the ball in anger, pulling a coin out of his pocket to mark before it even came to rest. Two more putts and he signed for a 9, actually the second time he’s made a quad on the 15th hole in his Masters career. (The first time came in 2017.)

His Masters wasn’t — technically — over, but it certainly felt that way. On 18, he snap-hooked a drive into the left trees and was overheard grumbling in frustration to his caddie Michael Greller.

“That’s six drives that went 30 yards left today, Michael,” Spieth said.

He did manage to save par on 18, but his second round, after the harried dash through the crowd, offered little salvation. On his second hole, he yanked another drive left, just narrowly avoiding the penalty area Sports Illustrated’s Dan Jenkins once christened “The Delta Counter” because if you hit it there on Friday, you might as well change your flight because you were missing the cut.

Spieth located his ball, under a tree with overhanging branches, nestled in some pine straw. As he waited for the green to clear, he elected to sit down in the fairway, his elbows resting on his knees. Several minutes crept by. It was sobering to watch, particularly if you remember the brilliance of 2015.

Spieth eventually made birdie from there, a reminder that, no matter what happens, he’ll always be interesting. But his best moments are getting smaller in the rearview mirror, and the road ahead feels as mysterious as ever.

Kevin Van Valkenburg is the Editorial Director of No Laying Up.

Email him at