Spi­eth ready to re­turn af­ter Masters melt­down

World No. 2 al­ready look­ing ahead to US Open de­fence

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

J or­dan Spi­eth un­der­stands his melt­down at the end of the Masters will fol­low him and three weeks on from his Au­gusta agony, he’s not quite ready to say he’s over blow­ing a fiveshot lead in an ugly fi­nal round col­lapse.

“I’m not tak­ing it very hard,” said Spi­eth ahead of a prac­tice round at Oak­mont where he will try to de­fend his US Open ti­tle next month.

“I’ve got ladies at the gro­cery stores putting their hand on me and go­ing, ‘Re­ally pray­ing for you; how are you do­ing?’ I’m like, ‘My dog didn’t die. I’ll be OK. I’ll sur­vive’.”

That’s how sur­prised ev­ery­body was with his fi­nal round fall. Last sea­son that kind of thing didn’t hap­pen dur­ing the 22-yearold’s sprint to the top of the world rank­ings, a dash that in­cluded a pair of ma­jor cham­pi­onships and a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the game’s stead­i­est play­ers. Yet in the span of 30 min­utes dur­ing the fi­nal round at Au­gusta, that aura dis­ap­peared. A bo­gey at 10. An­other at 11. That seem­ingly end­less se­quence on 12 where he hit the ball into Rae’s Creek not once but twice on his way to a quadru­ple bo­gey 7 that cost him con­trol of the tour­na­ment. “It was just bad tim­ing on the wrong hole,” he said. “And you know, it is what it is, and I’ll move on. If you’re in con­tention at a ma­jor, hope­fully 50plus times in your ca­reer, some­thing like that is bound to hap­pen. Just don’t let it hap­pen again.” Spi­eth en­dured the un­com­fort­able post-round cer­e­mony with Danny Wil­lett, whose bril­liant clos­ing 5-un­der- par 67 will be for­ever tied with the way Spi­eth let it slip away.

Spi­eth ad­mit­ted “this one will hurt” in the af­ter­math and he’s spent the last few weeks try­ing to de­com­press and get ready for the daunt­ing test that awaits at Oak­mont.

“Our team can draw on the wins, and that’s what we’re go­ing to do,” added Spi­eth. “We’ve now had a chance to win com­ing down the stretch in six ma­jors and we’ve won two of them, in­clud­ing the last five and 2014 Masters.

“So that’s still a pretty good per­cent­age. Con­sid­er­ing my age, and hope­fully with con­tin­ued good health and con­tin­ued im­proved play, if we keep that per­cent­age up, we’ll be all right.”

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