Although Jordan Spieth is a Texan through and through, the Masters and Augusta National feel like home to him. His playing record testifies to that, with his victory here in 2015 and his runner-up finishes in the years immediately before and after.
There is also the fact that, in his wire-to-wire triumph, Spieth not only tied Tiger Woods’ 72-hole scoring mark of 18-under 270 but also set the Tournament record for birdies by making 28 of them.
Not even the gut-wrenching quadruple bogey that he posted on the 12th hole during the final round last year to lose what, on the 10th tee had been a five-stroke lead, can take away the good vibes that Spieth gets here today.
“The Masters is my favorite golf tournament,” he said after playing a practice round Tuesday. “And I thoroughly enjoy this place and this week.”
When asked what he likes best about the Masters, Spieth started with the golf course.
“I like the elevation changes, the sidehill lies, the pull to Rae’s Creek and the way that affects putts,” he explained. “It’s imaginative golf. It’s feel golf, and I really enjoy when I can move away from technicality and toward feel. It’s an advantage for me when I can do that.”
The winner of nine PGA Tour events in a professional career that began just four years ago, Spieth said the aura of Augusta National and the excitement of the patrons only add to the Tournament’s appeal. “I am able to feed off of that, playing rounds like I did today,” he said. “I just played the second nine, and it was a lot of fun. You don’t come away from a lot of Tuesdays on Tour saying that.”
Of course, there was nothing fun about his collapse on No. 12, the devilish par 3 that bears the deceptively innocent appellation of Golden Bell. When Spieth teed his ball for the first time there that afternoon, he held a three-shot lead. When he finally walked off the hole, after putting two shots into the water, he stood one back of eventual winner Danny Willett, who then proceeded to birdie Nos. 13 and 14 on his way to a bogey-free 67 and a three-stroke win.
“It happens in this game,” Spieth says. “It was one of many tournaments I have lost given a certain performance on a hole or a stretch of holes.”
Spieth is the first to acknowledge that at times he thinks of how he let the 2016 Masters slip away. But he described himself as hellbent on moving forward and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead, in this year’s Masters and the many to come.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn about this golf course,” said Spieth, 23. “And one reason why I love this place so much is that I learn something new about it every single time I play it – a different angle, a different break.”
But at the same time, Spieth and his caddie, Michael Greller, feel they have the course mapped out so well that they know just where Spieth can – and cannot – hit his shots. “I seem to enjoy this place more and more each year,” he said.
That only increases Speith’s comfort level at Augusta National, and his odds of winning another Green Jacket.