Spieth: 'Very close' to form despite missing cut

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Former World No. 1 Jordan Spieth missed the cut for the third time in his past eight PGA Tour events Friday, but he still says he's close to competing for championships on a regular basis again.

Spieth fired a 3-under 69 in the second round of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Friday, which was seven shots better than his 4-over 76 in the opening round.

Unfortunately, his 36-hole total of 1 over wasn't enough to keep him around for the weekend.

Spieth was still encouraged by the improvement he saw on the greens, where he had struggled so far this season.

"I putted extremely well, proud of the fight today," Spieth said. "Putting's back. It's very close to being top of the world again. So I know how to get there, which is good news."

Spieth needed only 24 putts in a second round that included seven birdies and four bogeys. His two-round total was 54 strokes on the green.

"For the most part, the questions going into last year and even the beginning of this year were around putting," Spieth said. "I've been very patient with the way I've wanted to work on it, and I knew that at some point soon, it was going to start to come around. I've had some really solid rounds [putting]. I don't know if I missed a putt under 10 feet in two days."

Spieth was ranked No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking four times for a total of 26 weeks in 2015, when he won the Masters and the U.S. Open.

He has struggled mightily for much of the past two seasons. He currently sits at No. 25 in the world and hasn't had a top-10 finish since a tie for ninth at The Open in late July -- nearly eight months ago.

Spieth hasn't finished better than a tie for 35th this season.

"In any career, you're going to have ups and downs," Spieth said. "I've had them. ... When I was missing Q-school, I had a year or two where I couldn't get the ball in the hole from outside of 3 feet. I turned that in a couple of years to making everything. It's how it works."

With the Masters, the first major of the season, about a month away, Spieth is encouraged with the direction in which his game is headed. He is working with his team on how he addresses the ball from tee to green. He said his swing looks good but doesn't feel right. At times, he worries his club face is closed when it really isn't.

"As far as the full swing goes, it's going to require more repetitions," Spieth said. "It was really good on the range, didn't really miss a shot, but [then I made] the same mistakes I was making earlier in the year [on the golf course]. Probably one out of every two shots was good with the long clubs. Unfortunately, you get out there and you need nine out of 10 to be good.

"I'm just trying to get to where I'm able to set up clean, and then I'll be able to hit more consistent shots."

The former University of Texas star plans to play in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, from March 27-31, two weeks before he returns to Augusta National Golf Club, where he has four top-three finishes in five career starts.

"I really like the look of it off the tees," Spieth said. "I tend to drive the ball better there than I do other places. ... Sure, I would like to be contending every single week, but as we go into the first major, which is obviously where I want to be, I'm very, very happy with where the short game's been and just fine-tuning the long game."