Spi­eth mas­ters emo­tions in ma­jor melt­down

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

SOUTHPORT: Open cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth was haunted by bad mem­o­ries on Sun­day as he faced up to the pos­si­bil­ity of throw­ing away another big lead in the fi­nal round of a Ma­jor.

The 23-year-old Amer­i­can frit­tered away a three-shot ad­van­tage and af­ter he drove his ball into an un­playable lie at the 13th hole, his play­ing part­ner Matt Kuchar edged ahead.

Spi­eth led last year’s Mas­ters by five shots go­ing into the back nine of the fourth round but found wa­ter twice in a quadru­ple-bo­gey at the 12th hole and lost the ti­tle to Danny Wil­lett.

“(Sun­day) took as much out of me as any day that I’ve ever played golf,” Spi­eth said. “I knew that another ma­jor win would be the one thing that would prove I’m ca­pa­ble of clos­ing these Ma­jors out.

“I didn’t re­ally do much wrong, just hit a cou­ple of bad swings. And all of a sudden it was in my own head ... ‘How could I not close out a five­stroke lead with nine to play?’ ”

Af­ter lengthy dis­cus­sions with rules of­fi­cials, Spi­eth struck his next shot at the 13th from a prac­tice area but, un­like in his Mas­ters melt­down, the in­ci­dent seemed to in­spire him.

He went birdie, ea­gle, birdie, birdie to move two shots ahead and a solid par at the last sealed a three-stroke vic­tory and his third Ma­jor ti­tle.

“You just don’t know re­ally what your mind is go­ing to do to you,” Spi­eth said.

“You can con­trol it to an ex­tent but cer­tain sit­u­a­tions are go­ing to bring more ten­sion and you have to kind of chan­nel that the right way.”

Spi­eth be­came the sec­ond player af­ter 18-times Ma­jor cham­pion Jack Nick­laus to win three legs of the ca­reer Grand Slam be­fore the age of 24.

“It’s in­cred­i­ble,” Spi­eth said. “This is as much of a high as I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced in my golf­ing life. And I’m go­ing to en­joy it more than I’ve en­joyed any­thing that I’ve ac­com­plished in the past.”

“It’s amaz­ing. I feel blessed to be­able to play the game I love. To be in that com­pany is ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble and I cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate it,” Spi­eth said.

“But I’m very care­ful as to what that means go­ing for­ward be­cause what those guys have done has tran­scended the sport.

“And in no way, shape or form do I think I’m any­where near that what­so­ever. So it’s a good start, but there is a long way to go.” – Reuters

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