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had one of the best putting weeks I can remember: without ever sinking a putt longer than 21 feet, Spieth made putts totaling 406 feet over the 72 holes, including 35 putts of five feet or more and 12 of 10 feet or more. (By comparison, Willett made 292 feet of putts, including 21 putts of five feet or more and seven of 10 feet or more – all statistics calculated via the “Track” feature on www.masters.com.) On glassy surfaces buffeted by strong winds for three solid days, that’s almost miraculous, and despite his mishaps Spieth remains the best clutch put- ter since Tiger, and arguably one of the best ever.


On the minus side, Spieth seems


to have aged a decade in the past six months. Last year, his habit of pleading with his flying golf ball felt quirky and endearing, but he now seems much more irritable and anxious. His swing has become unacceptably loose, his stock miss being to the right as he comes up and out of his follow–through. His pace of play has also slackened; Wil-


lett’s brother called him “slowpoke” on Twitter during the final round, and Spieth’s constant dithering over the ball – and in conversation with caddie Michael Greller, a partner- ship many fans find increasingly irksome – does not suggest an immaculately ordered mind. Maybe he’s just tired; between November and January he played tournaments in China, Australia, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Abu Dhabi and Singapore (in that order), and he’s had only two weeks off since making his mainland PGA Tour debut this year at Pebble Beach. Overscheduling is a self–inflicted wound, but it is also easily remedied. Ultimately, I think Spieth will


be fine. After all, McIlroy choked even more comprehensively at the Masters five years ago, and two months later he won the US Open by eight shots. But Spieth cut a very forlorn figure in the Butler Cabin; not since 1961, when Arnold Palmer double–bogeyed the 72nd hole and gifted the Masters to Gary Player, has a narrowly defeated runner–up


been forced to put the green jacket on the winner. This Masters Sunday hurt Jordan Spieth, and it hurt him badly. How he bounces back from this disappointment and puts it behind him could be the making of him.


US expat Darren Kilfara formerly worked for Golf Digest magazine and is the author of A Golfer’s Education (below), a memoir of his junior year abroad as a student-golfer at the University of St. Andrews. His latest book, a novel called Do You Want Total War?, is also now available online at Amazon and elsewhere.


The American 75


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