AUGUSTA, Ga. – Wednesday morning, Jordan Spieth stopped on the Hogan Bridge to hit a chip onto the 12th green, then stood by the water and lobbed a wedge over the bunker and toward the flag.
In his last practice round before the 2018 Masters, Spieth hardly seemed haunted by the shots that ruined his 2016 Masters, two attempts that landed in Rae’s Creek and kept him from winning a second green jacket at the age of 22.
Spieth finished second in 2016 despite taking a 7 at No. 12. That number cost him a major but did not derail his career. He won the 2017 British Open and will begin the 2018 Masters as one of many logical favorites.
What’s different this year is that Spieth, for perhaps the first time in his life, had found himself in a putting slump before rallying to finish third at the Houston Open last weekend.
Spieth admitted this week that he was previously panicked about his putting. “Yeah, I did,” he said. “It was almost just a little bit of impatience, a little bit of desire and wanting it to be back so quickly.”
He fell sick in December, robbing him of his usual offseason “checklist.” “I made big strides the last two weeks to get from kind of a panic place to a very calm, collected and confident place,” he said. “It’s difficult to do in two weeks. Sometimes it takes years. And I feel like I’ve been able to speed up that process a lot in the last couple of weeks.”
He has played in 20 majors, winning three and finishing in the top five seven times, and the Masters is both his favorite tournament and the site of his greatest success. In four starts, he has finished tied for second, first, tied for second and tied for 11th.
“This is my favorite tournament in the world,” he said. “I’ve certainly made that pretty clear going back the last five years.”
The Masters is golf’s most reserved tournament. There is a rumor that among the phrases course marshals will prohibit on course is “Dilly, dilly.”
Spieth may be more vocal than fans at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He talks to his golf ball as if it were a trained dog.
“I’m not a big fan of, and I don’t really recognize how often I’m yelling at the golf ball,” he said. “It annoys me to watch myself do that, personally. But I guess it’s something I’ve always done, and so I don’t know if it will stop.”