Jordan Spieth battles a right heel injury as he prepares for a punishing US Open layout at Torrey Pines, where he began seeing major improvements in his game in January.
The three-time major winner has had eight top-10 US PGA tour finishes since missing the cut in a tour event at the oceanside layout five months ago, and snapped a four-year win drought by taking the Texas Open in April.
"Overall, everything has been quite a bit better," Spieth said Tuesday. "I've just been sticking to the game plan.
"Just started to really get a good grasp on what things are supposed to feel like through impact, what I did that was such an advantage for a long time and where I'd gotten off."
The 24th-ranked American, who tees off Thursday afternoon alongside fellow Texans Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, hopes he will be over a heel setback suffered last week.
"I was carrying my clubs and I jammed my heel leaving the course," Spieth said. "So it has been hurting, but it's nothing that I'm going to do more damage to or anything like that, so I'm fine."
Spieth will feel it was he walks along the hilly 7,282-yard course.
"I'm having a hard time pushing off on some of the drives," Spieth admitted. "But yesterday was better than the day before, which was better than the day before. So I assume just continue treatment and rest, and it should be fine."
Spieth's fightback to form has seen him share third at the Masters in April and take second at Colonial last month.
"Just kind of progress I've made in the tee to green range. Then putting and chipping has been pretty solid," Spieth said. "A little bit streaky, but I feel like I've been moving the right direction with the flatstick."
The success after years of struggles for the 2015 US Open and Masters winner and 2017 British Open champion has made a remarkable change in attitude from last year's US Open at Winged Foot.
"Winged Foot was, 'Oh boy, here we go,' and this week is I'm in a position where I think I can stand on the 10th tee on Thursday and win this golf tournament," Spieth said.
"As much as you want to say that you can fake it till you make it, I needed that confidence between then and now to really think that standing on the tee."
- Tee off with patience -
While more confident off the tee, Spieth admitted he might need to reshape his game plan during the week to stay confident on a US Open layout with dense rough, firm fairways and lightning-fast greens.
"In a US Open when you're really struggling off the tee, it's just not going to go well," he said. "If I'm in a bad lie, you just can't force things on a course like this. If you have to punch out and hit a wedge close to make par, then do it.
"Being in a better place allows me to feel like I'm going to tee off with a little more patience. If I do make a couple bogeys, it's fine, because I feel like I'm going to make some birdies, versus, oh no, the wheels are coming off."