Jordan Spieth won his first major at the 2015 Masters and, after adding the US Open and PGA Championship before the end of 2017, looked set to dominate. Now, winless in the last three seasons and outside the world top-50, can Spieth use Augusta to launch a comeback to top form?
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You won the Masters and the US Open in 2015. What impressed you most about that season when you reflect now?
The ability to finish strong at the end. The way we handled the Masters was awesome after [losing] the year before, but also the last two majors were pretty awesome, especially coming out on the wrong end of the draw of both. At the PGA it was almost three shots gone being on the wrong end of the draw. And I blocked out all the noise – things like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated – and stuck to my plan. I stepped up at the John Deere and continued through the US Open and got the job done there. It was the ability to stay in a rhythm the entire time and not worry about the big things or let them distract me.
Moving forward a year, was there part of you that was glad when 2016 was over given what happened at Augusta?
Yeah, definitely. I was happy when the ball touched down and 2017 started. It was still a great year, but I learned a lot on both ends of things – highs and lows. I didn't really have many lows in 2015 and after that it was just trying to climb up to the top level. I think I can use that to my advantage this year and on.
Does the media place too much emphasis on current success? If so, does that affect how you assess your game?
I'm learning now how to look at my game from a 'career' picture and not just a 'now' picture. Unfortunately, that's kind of the world we live in. All the questions that are asked are very much about the present. So I've been looking more to the future for my goals, for my outlook on practice, my overall wellness, my workout regimen etc. I'm just thinking about things more now from a long-term perspective. Obviously, I saw in 2015 what momentum can do, but I need to recognise that even if last year was a little bit of a down, we're still in really good shape long-term. Looking at things from a more elongated perspective makes me think a lot more positively about last season.
You had incredible success so early in your career – did, or do, things seem to move fast?
At this point, not as much. But a year or two ago, yeah, definitely. But now I'm used to it. I'm used to having people approach me, being recognised or getting to do cool
things. When I look back, it's wild, spending time with people I grew up watching, other athletes, actors, celebrities. But I don't think much of it now. Take a guy like Michael Phelps. He wants to know about my side of things, too. We've had some really good talks and that's cool to me.
What do you glean from experiences with other high-profile sports stars such as Tom Brady and Phelps?
It's just cool for me when you have one of these Super Bowl or World Series champions, they step on the tee at a golf course with 10 people watching them and they're more nervous than throwing for a championship. It's funny to me, because it's like, how could these guys get nervous doing this when the whole world watched them and they succeeded? They have nothing to lose. They are supposed to be bad at golf so who cares? But yet, they're still nervous. Michael Phelps gets so in the zone [when swimming]. He has his hood on, headphones on, he's looking down and doesn't notice anybody in the arena, which is similar to what we experience, for the most part, when big crowds come. When those guys talk to me, they all want to ask, Hey, I'm interested, when does your heart get pumping?
What's been the highlight of your career so far?
The walk up 18 at the Masters in 2015. It was more of a shocker when I was sitting with Michael [Greller] in the trailer at the US Open at Chambers Bay. But that walk up 18 at Augusta, knowing the tournament was basically done, that I had won, that was really special.
What do you love about the Masters?
The pureness of it. It's just golf. There are no phones allowed on the course. There's no media on the range. You're there, doing your work. Obviously the golf course is phenomenal, too. But I just love the pureness of the place when you're there, be it during the tournament or playing there with the members.
You're friendly with a lot of guys on tour around your age. Why do you all click?
Our high school class of 2011, we all travelled and played the same tournaments since we were 12. Now there's about a dozen of us on the PGA Tour. We're friends, so why should anything that you do or don't do change that? We enjoy hanging out with each other. It's also cool I have my best friends from high school and college but it's nice to have my friends out here not only because we're spending half the year out here and also experiencing the same things out here but you can talk about things you can't necessarily relate to other friends about – and that helps.
Have you learned things from the tougher seasons in your career?
There were certainly times where my fuse was a little too short. I mean, people go through those kind of stretches. I just felt like I complained a bit when it was unnecessary – like when I'm talking to Michael, for example. It doesn't do any good.
So when you have time to think about the season, and think about the year and the next year, you realise, hey, pretty soon we're going to have been on Tour for 15 years. So why not really enjoy that? Just keep making each year feel like it lasts a long time and you have a lot of great times every single week and just enjoy the process.
I mean, I'm going to make doubles and triples, and I'm going to make birdies and eagles and holes-in-one in my career on the PGA Tour. Not living on such a short fuse will be a goal. Doesn't mean not getting angry at bad rounds or bad holes, because that's natural and that's how you bounce back. If you were OK with bogeys, then it would be harder to go on a birdie string right after. But it just means not taking it to that extra level.
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