Spieth not letting Masters loss haunt him

By Rex HoggardApril 16, 2014, 7:11 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – That empty feeling that has been gnawing at Jordan Spieth since Sunday’s final round at the Masters was still there as he made his way around Harbour Town Golf Links for Wednesday’s pro-am.

It will be there when he tees off for Round 1 of the RBC Heritage on Thursday. It will be there for the rest of this season. Truth is, it will be there forever.

“You don’t ever get over it. It will always be disappointing,” Davis Love III said.

Love came by his pain honestly. At the 1996 U.S. Open he bogeyed his last two holes to finish a stroke behind Steve Jones. Love turned 50 on Sunday, celebrating with friends and family right about the time Spieth’s magical Masters run was being washed down Rae’s Creek, and the ghosts of that ’96 Open loss still haunt him.

So imagine how Spieth, a 20-year-old going on 35 who was playing his first Masters, has spent the last three days – reflection, regret, resentment?

Sure.

“It left me stinging,” he acknowledged Wednesday.

Yet as the golf world is learning, this is not your off-the-shelf 20-year-old. Along with the pain came plenty of appreciation for the opportunity to play for and ultimately lose the green jacket.


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“There’s nothing haunting me from last week,” he said.

Spieth, who moved to ninth in the world golf ranking this week to become the youngest American to crack the top 10, spent Sunday night relaxing with friends and family. They played ping-pong and ate beef shish kabobs with rice and sub sandwiches, because that’s how 20-year-olds roll.

Late Sunday, Spieth texted his Dallas-based swing coach Cameron McCormick and on Monday the two had a lengthy conversation about what had happened during the final round at Augusta National: the less-than-perfect layup at No. 8 compounded by a follow-up bogey at the ninth that resulted in a four-stroke swing with eventual champion Bubba Watson, the indecision at No. 12. Oh, the indecision at the 12th.

“I let the 20-year-old inside me just barely slip out,” Spieth said.

And it cost him. A 9-iron from 150 yards, 143 yards to carry Rae’s Creek, that he’d hit a thousand times in his mind. A 9-iron that would drop short into the bank and eventually trundle into the creek.

“I hate having 9-iron and not being able to go to the pin,” he said. “We picked a spot and I got over the ball and felt like there was no wind or, if anything, a touch of help, which is what that hole does to you.”

McCormick calls it “objective self-reflection.” In practical terms, it is what separates Spieth from many, if not all, of his up-and-coming contemporaries.

“It goes back to when he was 16 years old and we would have conversations and I’d make suggestions. He’s always been receptive and at the same time inquisitive,” McCormick said. “He questions you, challenges you. Part of that is he’s developed this trait of objective self-reflection to understand very quickly what he needs to improve on.”

This goes back to a moment earlier this year during a match against Ernie Els at the WGC-Match Play Championship when Spieth admittedly lost his cool.

“I’m embarrassed about the way I acted on the course today. Played like the 13-year-old version of myself mentally. A lot of positives,” Spieth tweeted following the loss.

McCormick said that Spieth’s social-media mea culpa was “from the heart,” and completely unprovoked. By comparison, his Sunday swoon at the Masters was more an opportunity to learn than an opportunity lost.

For 61 holes Spieth controlled his emotions and his golf ball with equal savvy, not a first-timer learning the nuances of arguably the most demanding test on the fly.

“I’ve looked back to all the positives,” Spieth said. “I feel like I played really well to not shoot an over-par round on that course and not make more than a bogey for four days the way that course was playing.”

It’s why Spieth’s mental toughness, more than his flawless swing or short game, appears to be his best attribute. Consider that at this point last year he didn’t have status on the PGA Tour and watched the year’s first major from his couch like the rest of us.

Where some see failure and the baggage that comes with it, Spieth appears determined to take a more scientific approach to an opportunity that can’t be reproduced in a lab.

“He will learn from how Bubba carried himself or how Ernie carried himself at the Match Play,” McCormick said. “There are always learning experiences and he is good at understanding that.”

Still, missed opportunities have a tendency of festering into painful reminders (see Mickelson, Phil, U.S. Open). If Spieth sounded resolute in his ability to move on from his Masters miss, there were telltale signs that he still may need some time.

Asked on Wednesday if he’d watch the replay of Sunday’s final round Spieth offered a quick, “No.”

Will you ever watch it?

“Probably not. I don’t think so,” he said before pausing, “maybe if I win.”

Some wounds are better left unopened.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.