34° Good Morning
34° Good Morning

The Masters: Jordan Spieth tries to put 2016 collapse behind him

Jordan Spieth reacts after finishing on the 18th

Jordan Spieth reacts after finishing on the 18th green during the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Ga. Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Jordan Spieth did not supply his own epigram. He did not bookmark his watery collapse on the 12th hole at Augusta National last April with a quip like Jean Van de Velde saying he imagined his drowning golf ball calling to him at the 1999 British Open, “You silly, silly man.”

Nor did Spieth, after tossing away his chance for another green jacket with a quadruple bogey, say anything to rival Phil Mickelson’s “I am such an idiot” at Winged Foot after the 2006 U.S. Open.

Nothing from Spieth rivaled the shocked reaction from Roberto De Vicenzo, who lost the 1968 Masters by signing an incorrect scorecard: “What a stupid I am.”

Spieth was simply stunned into the lowest of low keys after having followed two bogeys with the 7 on the little par three, letting his five-stroke lead slip away, thoroughly and dramatically. He hopes that his statement will come this week, when he gets another crack at the major championship that has defined his young career so far.

Sometimes tournaments are more about who lost than who won. Danny Willett did play exceptionally down the stretch and earned the green jacket fair and square. But Spieth, who was the defending champion and who still never has finished worse than a tie for second at Augusta, was the headliner. He still is.

“The Masters lives on for a year,” he said at the recent WGC Match Play. “No matter what happens at this year’s Masters, whether I can grab the jacket back or I miss the cut or I finish 30th, it will be nice having this Masters go by.”

As Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said, “I think that’s optimistic of Jordan, thinking that as soon as this event is over, that he’s put it behind him.”

The sight of Spieth hitting two shots into Rae’s Creek, the second a chunk worthy of a weekend hacker, is not the sort of thing that fades.

Colin Montgomerie, also a Golf Channel commentator, can identify, having squandered his best chance to win a major with a poor approach shot on No. 18 at Winged Foot 11 years ago. He said: “The feeling of giving it to somebody, that hurts more than ever, and that’s the thing that Jordan has been hurt by. It was, ‘I had a hand and a half on this Masters jacket again, and I just couldn’t button it up. Had it on, and I just couldn’t fasten it.’ ”

Then again, Spieth still is only 23. He won at Colonial last May and at Pebble Beach this February. “He’s a very, very old head on young shoulders, and he has as much discipline as anybody,” Montgomerie said. “And if anybody can come over that and through that back nine last year, he can, and I wish him well to do so.”

Spieth has practiced at Augusta several times since last April — playing with Tom Brady this past week — and has repeatedly birdied No. 12. No hard feelings toward that little but treacherous hole. When he was asked at the Shell Houston Open this week what goes through his mind when he looks at it, he again offered no poignant or pithy riposte. He said: “I see an extremely well-designed par-3.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports