Spieth will win despite meltdown

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Don't worry about Jordan Spieth's meltdown - Colin Callander believes he'll win the US Open next month

Jordan Spieth is not likely ever to forget what happened to him coming down the stretch at the 2016 Masters.

The fact he let a five-shot lead slip from his grasp over the last nine holes will hurt for a while but I doubt it will scar him for life as some of the more pessimistic commentators have been suggesting.

It might have been different had the 22-year-old American had not won a Green Jacket before, but by the time he had anointed Danny Willett as the new champion it seemed he had already started to put his meltdown into perspective.

“Big picture, this one will hurt, it will take a while,” he admitted.

“I had my ‘B-minus’ game tee to green and I made up for it around the greens and with my putter.

“I hit some really good irons but for the most part it was my ability to map out the course, my putting and my short game that pretty much had us in the lead.”

Like all the best professionals, Spieth was already taking the positives out of his performance and the Texan had every right to do so.

 

Long before the bogeys on the 10th and 11th followed by that ruinous quadruplebogey seven on the 12th, he had already carded three double bogeys during the course of the first three rounds – and there might well have been more but for a bit of luck and his exceptional touch on and around the greens.

In the end, Spieth lost the chance to join the elite group who have retained the Green Jacket not because of any mental fragility, but because Augusta is no place to bring your “B-minus” long game.

He can take heart from leading for so long when his long game was so out of sorts and also from the fact that he is not the first, and will certainly not be the last, defending champion to suffer in this way.

This year, Spieth arrived at Augusta to find he was sharing a locker with Arnold Palmer and the pair now have much more in common than just a place to hang their Green Jackets in Augusta’s champions’ locker room.

Back in 1959, Palmer suffered an eerily similar fate to Spieth. Like his younger compatriot, he arrived at Augusta as defending champion. Like Spieth he came to the 12th hole in the final round with a three-shot lead. Like Spieth, he found Rae’s Creek on that hole (albeit once and not twice). Like Spieth he went on to birdie the 13th and 15th but dropped a shot at the 17th to lose the chance to defend the title.

That episode might have been enough to crush some players but not someone of the calibre of Palmer. He did not win a Major in the remaining months of that year but in 1960 he won the Masters and the US Open.

In 1961 he won the Open, in ’62 he won the Masters and another Open before completing his haul of majors with his fourth Green Jacket in ’64.

 

It is premature to mention Spieth in the same breath as a legend like Palmer but I would not be surprised if the younger American does not bounce back in similar fashion and he might do it even quicker if he and his coach,Cameron McCormick, can sort out his long game in time for next month’s US Open at Oakmont, in Palmer’s home state of Pennsylvania.

Oakmont could well be the perfect course for Spieth to clock up his third Major title because its greens are arguably even more devilish than Augusta’s and therefore ideal for a player with such a supreme putting
touch.

Interestingly, the bookies seem to agree with me. They clearly don’t believe Spieth’s scar tissue will take too much time to heal either because, less than 24 hours after Danny Willett was crowned Masters champion, they had already installed the American as the favourite to win the second Major of the year.

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