Tour players debate the ‘coulda, shoulda’ game for Jordan Spieth after Masters

Jordan Spieth walks to the 18th green during the final round of the 2016 Masters.

Tour players debate the ‘coulda, shoulda’ game for Jordan Spieth after Masters

PGA Tour

Tour players debate the ‘coulda, shoulda’ game for Jordan Spieth after Masters

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — There are dozens of those Terry Malloy tournaments for every golfer. The “coulda” times.

They are not to be confused with the “shoulda” tournaments.

“There’s definitely a difference,” Brandt Snedeker said when asked how he distinguishes between tournaments he feels he “could have” won and those he “should have won.”

“The ones you should have won were the ones you had control over and didn’t. Either A, you made a mental error down the stretch or B, you made a mistake you know you shouldn’t have made because of the situation you were in.”

The could have won? “A few putts could have dropped here and here and there,” Snedeker said. He shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and pretty much said that players have far more “could have” memories than “should have” nightmares.

Like Snedeker, Kevin Kisner thinks “could have” and “should have” are apples and bananas.

“Mentally, I think it’s totally (different). ‘Could have won,’ you walk away (saying) ‘Yeah, I need to improve this aspect and I’ll win.’ But ‘should have won’ makes you feel like you got kicked in the gut a little bit.’ ”

Now if you’re guessing this conversation was in reaction to what went on at Augusta National last Sunday, give yourself a birdie. Nothing resonates in the world of golf like the Masters, and PGA Tour guys are still talking about it a few days later. They feel for Jordan Spieth, who led by five with nine to play, only to collapse at the 10th, 11th and 12th holes and finish second to Danny Willett.

It will go down as a “should have” tournament, Geoff Ogilvy said. Even though it was three days later, Ogilvy was still processing the events of the final round of the 2016 Masters. He did not play this year, but he watched all of Saturday and Sunday and like any other fan, Ogilvy was stunned at what happened at the start of the back nine — a bogey at 10, a bogey at 11, then two balls in the water and a quadruple-bogey 7 at the 12th.

Ogilvy could interpret things differently than most fans because as a guy who plays at the top of the game he knew Spieth was struggling with his game. “I think he has to take that out (of the week), that I can lead a major by five with nine to play with not even remotely close to my best.”

But Ogilvy concedes that the bottom line for Spieth is this: “Because I got five in front, I should have finished it.”

Emphasis on “should have,” which is vastly different than “could have.”

For example, the 2004 Masters and 2011 Masters? They were “could have” memories for Ernie Els and Adam Scott, respectively. Els could have won, yes, but Phil Mickelson birdied the 72nd hole. Scott could have won, yes, but Charl Schwartzel birdied each of the last four.

Neither Els nor Scott had control over those moments.

But Rory McIlroy at the 2011 Masters or Scott at the 2012 British Open. “Those were should have,” Ogilvy said because they had control of the situation.

McIlroy imploded five Aprils ago, going from four in front to start the day to a round of 80 and his triple-bogey at 10 was a lowlight. Scott bogeyed each of the last four holes to cough up a comfortable lead.

“Should have” times for both and they are easily identified. “They are the ones you had control over,” Snedeker said. “You had the ability to (dictate) what happens (only) you made a mistake, you did something uncharacteristic.”

Jason Day suggested that the “could have” and “should have” tournaments all add up and are painful for all golfers. “Unless you’re Tiger Woods, most people have blown more tournaments than they have won.” But Day did concede that at the end of the day, you carry with you the “should have” tournaments for a longer stretch of time.

Players agreed that Spieth will certainly chalk up the 2016 Masters as one of those “shoulda” times, as opposed to Malloy’s iconic “coulda” quote in the epic film “On The Waterfront.”

Malloy, played by Marlon Brando, was telling his brother that he “coulda been a contender” had he been given a better shake and been allowed the freedom to fight and not dive. Maybe. Maybe not. Too many contributing factors there that Malloy didn’t have control over.

But Spieth, playing himself? He had control. Definitely a “should have” memory, one of those times, as Kisner said, when the kid will feel like he “got kicked in the gut a little bit.”

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