Miller: Spieth can overcome, but Masters collapse will 'haunt him'


NBC’s Johnny Miller is curious to see how Jordan Spieth will handle memories of his Masters collapse when he makes his return to the PGA Tour next week at The Players Championship.

Miller said there could be challenges for Spieth in keeping those bad memories from popping back into his head the next time he gets in contention.

“That is going to haunt him for a long time,” Miller said Thursday in an NBC teleconference previewing The Players Championship. “He’s going to be thinking with the lead on the back nine, `I hope I don’t fall apart like I did at Augusta’ . . . It’s significant, not that he can’t overcome that, but he’s going to have to go through that thought.”

Miller said back in 1972 he was in contention battling Jack Nicklaus on Sunday of the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and shanked a shot at the 16th. Miller lost the battle and went on to win 24 times after that shank, but . . .

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“I still had that haunting me on the back nine of every tournament I ever won,” Miller said.

Miller said he addressed the shank by changing irons, going to some old Tommy Armour irons with the sweet spot farther from the hosel. He also changed the hosel configuration of the new irons.

“I did have to address that, and Spieth will have to address, `Am I totally going to lay the sod over it on the back nine of a big championship like I did at Augusta?’” Miller said.

Miller was speaking about Spieth’s chunk into the water after taking a drop at the 12th hole that Sunday a month ago at Augusta National. That shot was preceded by Spieth’s tee shot, which also found the water. Miller said Spieth’s tee shot was mishit, but Spieth also appeared to be taking too aggressive a line at the flagstick with a three-shot lead. Miller believes Spieth should also address his “chicken wing” follow through and how that may be causing him to miss too many shots right.

“He has a tendency with that bent left elbow to come down with the face open,” Miller said. “He has been doing it quite a bit this year. He really did it there. That was an amazing miss in the water and an amazing fat shot in the water.

“I’m looking forward to seeing if he and his teacher address that bent left arm. It seems like it’s more bent at impact and after impact than last year. It will be interesting to see if we see a little swing change to eliminate that shot to the right.”

Of course, Miller said Spieth may be on top of all of that.

“It could be he will have it all straightened out and his putting will be better,” Miller said. “He is off, most of the year. After the great win at Kapalua, I don’t know what happened, but he hasn’t done too well since then.”