The return of Spieth: The former No. 1's journey back to top form

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"It's been a long road."

Those were the words Jordan Spieth uttered after his Valero Texas Open victory.

And he wasn't lying.

The former world No. 1, who burst onto the scene as a teenager and began winning major championships at a rate only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus can relate to, disappeared from leaderboards for so long that many came to believe the 27-year-old's best days are behind him.

And maybe they are. Winning three majors and 11 PGA Tour titles before the age of 24 is an unsustainable rate, in hindsight. But Spieth going winless for nearly four years may be the most unbelievable portion of his career when it's all said and done.

Now that his drought is over, let's review Speith's long journey back to the winner's circle, a journey he conveniently completed right before he heads to his happy place - Augusta National.

July 23, 2017: Spieth wins the Open Championship for his third career major title before turning 24. He moves to No. 2 in the world with his 11th PGA Tour title.

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Sept. 3, 2017: He records back-to-back runner-up results in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He would go on to finish second in the FedEx Cup points race.

April 8, 2018: Finishes third at the Masters with final-round 64 and ends the week ranked third in the world.

June 17, 2018: Misses his second straight cut at the U.S. Open, one week after the worst strokes gained: tee-to-green performance of his career. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come.

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July 21, 2018: Spieth holds a share of the 54-hole lead at the Open Championship. He shoots 76 in the final round to finish in a tie for ninth.

Sept. 9, 2018: Finishes T-55 at BMW Championship to miss the Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. The result marks his first winless season since 2013 as well.

Sept. 30, 2018: Spieth goes 3-2-0 at the Ryder Cup but loses his singles match 5-and-4 to Thorbjorn Olesen.

Dec. 30, 2018: Spieth ends the year ranked 17th in the world and misses five cuts in 24 events played.

May 19, 2019: He finishes third at Bethpage Black for the first top-20 of the season. He gains over 10 strokes putting that week, the most for a single event in his career, and ends the week ranked 30th in the world.

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June 16, 2019: Spieth's woes off the tee begin. He loses strokes off the tee at the U.S. Open and records negative strokes gained: off the tee in 23 of his next 28 events that track strokes-gained data.

Oct. 27, 2019: He falls to No. 40 in the world rankings after finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard at the Zozo Championship. It becomes his worst world ranking since August 2013.

Aug. 18, 2019: Spieth misses the Tour Championship for the second consecutive year.

Dec. 29, 2019: Ends second straight winless year as No. 44 in the world. In 2019, he played 25 events and finished inside the top 20 (excluding the limited-field Hero World Challenge) six times.

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Jan. 26, 2020: Spieth drops outside of the top 50 in the world rankings following a T-55 result at the Farmers Insurance Open.

June 14, 2020: He finishes tied for 10th at the Charles Schwab Challenge in the PGA Tour's first event following the COVID-19 shutdown.

Sept. 20, 2020: Misses the cut at the U.S. Open. It's his third missed cut in a row, and he sounds completely lost:

Nov. 15, 2020: Ties for 46th at the Masters, his worst career finish at Augusta. The event marks his final tournament of 2020, a year where Spieth played 20 times, missed six cuts, recorded only two top-10s, and sunk to No. 82 in the world.

Jan. 31, 2021: Misses the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and ends the week as the 92nd-ranked player in the world.

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Feb. 6, 2021: Spieth fires a third-round 61 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to go into the final round with a share of the lead. He ultimately ties for fourth after shooting 72 on Sunday.

Feb. 14, 2021: He finishes tied for third at Pebble Beach for his second straight top-five result, gaining over 12 strokes tee-to-green combined in his two hot weeks.

March 7, 2021: Places in a tie for fourth at Bay Hill to secure his third top-five result of the season and turns in another brilliant performance with his irons.

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April 4, 2021: Posts a final-round 66 to win the Valero Texas Open. His win comes 1,351 days after his victory at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

Jordan Spieth is officially back ... and golf is so much better because of it.

The return of Spieth: The former No. 1's journey back to top form
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