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Spieth doesn't help fatigue with Singapore jaunt

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After waiting an extra day, Jordan Spieth returned to the 18th green at the Singapore Open and calmly rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt.

He offered a halfhearted fist pump. He waved politely to the crowd. He even shared a fist bump with agent-turned-caddie Jay Danzi.

But in the end, it still wasn't enough to beat the world's 204th-ranked player, Younghan Song.

The Asian leg of the Spieth Worldwide Tour has come to a close, as the 22-year-old wunderkind will now head home for a brief respite. He gave the crowds plenty of reason to cheer over the prior fortnight, and his game has shown no signs of slipping since he lapped the field in Hawaii.

The show, indeed, goes on. But at what cost?

Spieth clearly feels a sense of duty to the global game as the world's top-ranked player, and he built his early-season schedule accordingly. Of course, with that honorable obligation reportedly came a couple of seven-figure appearance fees.

Regardless of motivation, Spieth has taken an aggressive approach to the beginning of what will be a busy year. He logged January starts in Maui, Abu Dhabi and Singapore - all while peers like Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Justin Rose barely got their campaigns off the ground.

"He's 22," you might think. "He'll be fine." That may be the case, and Spieth appears no worse for wear. But he has already begun to talk about the toll these pay-for-play jaunts have taken.

"We are kind of beat up mentally. Physically, we're not 100 percent right now," Spieth said a week ago in Abu Dhabi. "It shows in certain places."

We've seen this level of commitment from Spieth before. He surprised many when he returned last summer to the John Deere Classic, eschewing Open Championship prep in advance of his quest for a third straight major. Earlier this month, he told media members to expect him at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions every year he is eligible.

He was lauded for the latter statement, and he quieted any criticism of the former decision with his performance at St. Andrews. But this time, with so much important golf still ahead, Spieth has opened himself up to second-guessing.

After all, his next break will be measured in days, not weeks. He'll be back in action at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, with the Northern Trust Open looming the following week. Given his relative fatigue, he alluded last week to possibly tweaking his fall schedule, but there will be no reprieve in the coming months.

Spieth has already said he will return to the Shell Houston Open, where he lost last year in a playoff, and he'll be back at Innisbrook in March to defend his Valspar title. That means that the Masters will cap a run of nine worldwide events in 12 weeks, at which point no one will be asking him how his trip to Singapore helped prepare him for his green jacket defense.

"I was unlucky in the spacing of tournaments," he said. "That's what kind of led to this crazy four-month adventure that we've had."

It's a busy run, but it's also before he even reaches the summer blitz of two majors in three weeks - or a quick August detour to the Olympics before returning to chase the FedEx and Ryder Cups.

After an all-everything season, Spieth is entitled to craft whatever schedule he wants. And, as he did in Scotland last summer, he could halt any criticism if he remains in contention.

But these tournament dates did not just materialize out of thin air. Spieth and his team have known for weeks the gauntlet for which their man had signed up and now must complete.

While there are alterations that could be made, it's difficult to pass up free OWGR points at WGC events. Spieth also feels a strong tie to the Tour's events in Texas, which now number five with the shift of the Match Play to Austin.

Spieth has seemingly done no wrong over the past three-plus years, and he has more than enough talent to continue that trend. But should he begin to falter as the summer months heat up, the source of his frustrations might be traced back to this hectic stretch of global golf - when he tapped into his finite energy reserves before the season's first meaningful shot was struck.