ERIN, Wis. — For most of Saturday, it seemed as if the most visible part of Jordan Spieth was the top of his golf cap. Five missed birdie putts of 12 feet or less and two missed par putts from inside of six feet will make any golfer drop his chin to his chest.

That would be especially true if you were once considered the best putter in the world, as Spieth was only a year ago. These days, by his own admission, his putting is average at best.

It was just two years ago that Spieth won the United States Open because he mastered the baffling, bumpy greens of the Chambers Bay Golf Course, in Washington State, better than any other contender. The reward for such unwavering determination and precocious putting genius was his second major victory of 2015, a win that suddenly made anything, even golf’s Grand Slam, seem possible.

Spieth took a good run at golfing immortality that summer, finishing tied for fourth at the British Open and second at the P.G.A. Championship.

But now he is playing in his eighth major championship since that tour de force performance at Chambers Bay, his last major victory. It’s been more than a year since he cracked the top 10 at a major.

With a four-over-par 76 in Saturday’s third round, which included a clunky double bogey on his final hole, Spieth is about a handful of spots from last place at this year’s site, Erin Hills, where the greens are considered undemanding by major championship standards.

It has not gone unnoticed that one of his best buddies, Justin Thomas, who has lived in Spieth’s shadow since they were teenagers, was the darling of the golf world on Saturday after he shot a nine-under-par 63, the lowest score to par for a round in the history of the United States Open.

Spieth is still the fifth-ranked golfer in the world, and he has one tour victory this season and five other top-10 finishes. No one is calling his play a slump or predicting his golfing demise.

But he finds himself in a peculiar predicament. What do you do when the best part of your game deserts you?

Minutes after his round on Saturday, Spieth’s deliberations on this routine golf dilemma would sound familiar to any weekend duffer. He talked, for example, about what he was thinking as he stood over the ball for a putt.

“I’m out there thinking a lot about my stroke, or my stance — just all the stuff you’d rather not be thinking about,” he said.

He smiled wanly.

“You don’t want to think about that; you’d rather think about line or pace,” he said. “But I can’t do that yet because I haven’t figured out the other parts. I’m searching for it.”

Making putts breeds confidence, which makes it easier to make more putts. The inverse is also true. Spieth longs for a breakthrough.

“Once the can gets open, I’ll start pouring them in,” he said. “But it’s about trying to get the can open.”

In the meantime, it’s hard to watch one of the game’s best players, whose demeanor and comportment has been as exemplary as his production, struggle so mightily.

On Saturday, putt after putt rolled past the four-inch hole. There was the 15-foot birdie putt he just missed on the first hole, a three-foot missed putt for par on the third hole, a seven-foot par putt that trundled past the cup on the 13th, a 10-foot birdie opportunity squandered on the 15th and finally an ugly three-putt from 19 feet on the 18th hole.

Spieth dipped his head with each disappointment and marched on to the next tee. As usual, he kept his aplomb, although he did let a club fly out of his hands and clatter to the ground behind him after one tee shot. (He quickly retrieved it.)

“It’s frustrating, but today was an off day,” he said, then turned to a baseball analogy.

“Pitchers have good days and bad days, and I took an ‘L’ today and will come back tomorrow,” he continued. “And try to figure this out and finish strong.”

After his double bogey on No. 18, the 23-year-old Spieth began the quarter-mile walk to the scoring area. He led a parade of caddies and officials across a narrow bridge and through hay grass, a solitary figure striding purposefully with his head down and his gaze on the path just in front of his feet.

Spieth lifted his head just in time to see Rickie Fowler, who was beginning his third round just one stroke off the lead, walking toward him. The golfers passed each other and Spieth waved, as did Fowler, who was on his way to the first tee as one of the last golfers to play Saturday.

Not that long ago, playing in one of the final, featured groups of a major championship was an almost monthly experience for Spieth.

On Saturday, a gallery of fans watching the interaction between the two golfers largely ignored Spieth, but greeted Fowler with a loud ovation. They called out his name and clamored to get closer, hoping for a high-five or a fist bump.

Spieth kept going in the opposite direction.

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