Jordan Spieth doesn’t let tough start, 'demons' keep him from Masters contention

Apr 6, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Jordan Spieth reacts by swinging his club after hitting into a bunker on the 7th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

 Jordan Spieth doesn’t let tough start, 'demons' keep him from Masters contention

PGA Tour

 Jordan Spieth doesn’t let tough start, 'demons' keep him from Masters contention

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Two months after Jordan Spieth blew a five-stroke lead at the 2016 Masters over the back nine on Sunday, Beau Hossler injured his shoulder in the semifinal match of the NCAA Championship, forcing a stacked Texas team to compete against Oregon with only four players in the final match. Head coach John Fields called it catastrophic.

Spieth and Fields later compared notes on the aftermath of those heartbreaks.

“No matter where I went, it was like ‘Coach, we’re so sorry for you guys,” Fields said. “’I know you wanted to win, but you did such a great job.’ It was like that for a year.”

Spieth, who helped the Longhorns win a national title in 2012, told Fields that was the most difficult part for him, too. He could go into a grocery store and three ladies would come up to him and say “We feel so bad for you. Are you alright? Can we do anything for you?”

Lexi Thompson experienced the same thing after last year’s ANA Inspiration. Not a week went by that someone didn’t bring up the four-stroke penalty that dashed her dream of a second major.

“You still remember those,” Fields said. “I still do and it stings. We were right there.”

Jordan Spieth struggled immediately Friday, including here on the first hole. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Jordan Spieth struggled immediately Friday, including here on the first hole. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Spieth came into the second round of the 82nd Masters with two strokes on the field. Poor tee shots on the first two holes Friday put him 3 over out the gate and back among a pack of hungry players with something to prove. So while his lead went puff like the cloud of cigar smoke that hovered over the next tee, Spieth didn’t panic.

“I’ve taken a lot of punches on this golf course, and in tournaments in general,” Spieth said. “I told Michael, ‘Look, when this course plays tough, I’m good for a double here or some bogeys there. Let’s make these the only ones.’ ”

After Thursday’s opening 66, Spieth was asked if he’d draw on the win here in 2015 or the close calls or both.

“I’ll always have demons out here,” Spieth said. “But I’ll always have — I’ll always have a tremendous amount of confidence out here.”

Spieth birdied both par 5s on the back nine, two-putting each to shoot 2-over 74. He heads into the weekend five shots back of leader Patrick Reed.

Augusta National brings out the feel in Spieth’s game. Ben Crenshaw believes these greens are a comfort-factor for Spieth, the perfect antidote to a focus on mechanics.

“The last thing you want to do over any of these putts is be thinking about your stroke,” said Crenshaw, who was out watching Spieth around Amen Corner. “It’s very picture-minded here.”

Spieth said the Masters feels like a six-round event with the weekend grind. The man who is seeking his fourth major win in his 21st major start knows more than most that anything can happen at Augusta National, which is why he’s comfortable with his position.
Fields said he once heard an interview in which Tom Watson was asked if he fed off the positive flow of good things happening. Watson affirmed. Well then, is the same true of something negative? Watson said no.

And why is that?

“Because I say so,” Watson replied.

The mind control of a champion. It’s similar to the clutch gene that Fields saw time after time in junior and college golf.

“I always thought that of all the guys that I recruited,” said Fields, “(Spieth) had a knack for hitting a great shot on 18 a lot to finish a golf tournament or to finish a round. Here it comes again, and again and again.”

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