• April 19, 2021

Jordan Spieth heads into the Masters with relief after win

Jordan Spieth got to drive down Magnolia Lane late Monday morning with a sense of relief.

For the first time in nearly four years, he was a winner again Sunday on the PGA Tour, the constant scrutiny and questions concerning his troubling play now changing to talk of him being among the contenders at the Masters.

DraftKings now lists Spieth among the favorites, along with defending champion Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau.

“When you’re coming in form, it’s a good feeling when you arrive here, and I’ve had that a few times,” Spieth said. “I love being here. I love being on the grounds. It’s my favorite tournament in the world. I’ve expressed that many times here.

“Yesterday [at the Texas Open] was a great day. That was a lot of fun being in contention, having the putts kind of go in. As I’ve mentioned over the last six weeks or so, you put yourself in that position enough times, the bounces will go your way.”

Spieth, 27, had not won since his 2017 triumph at The Open, his third major title and his 11th PGA Tour victory.

The following years were bleak. Until February, Spieth had barely contended in a tournament in two years.

After missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, he dropped to 92nd in the world. He was still ranked as high as No. 2 in the world after the 2018 Open, where he was the 54-hole co-leader before fading to a tie for ninth.

Spieth showed signs of breaking out of his slump when he was in contention at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he tied for fourth after holding the 54-hole lead. He tied for third the following week at Pebble Beach and then tied for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After his triumph, he is now 38th in the world.

Despite it all, Spieth did not make any rash decisions. He stuck with his caddie, Michael Greller, and longtime swing coach, Cameron McCormick. Sometimes players who struggle will fire agents, trainers and any number of people in their inner circle.

“I think I needed to look back and take responsibility,” Spieth said. “It’s part of the game. It’s not like I lost my tour card. I just wasn’t winning three times a year. I think if I won once a year since then you guys still might have called it slightly a slump off of some years. It’s all about whatever the expectations of the individual are and what they can manage from the outside.

“For me, it was taking ownership and this is what happened. I believe in my team. They have proven themselves to be the best in the world, and how can we all get a little bit better through this and what steps are we going to take forward to be able to feel this momentum together as we start to make progress in the right direction, and then believing that’s happening.”

Spieth joined Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas as the only players in the past 40 years to win 12 times before age 28.

Steve Carr

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