AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two weeks before the Masters begins, Jordan Spieth is looking forward to it being over.
Spieth was on the verge of becoming only the fourth player to win back-to-back at Augusta National when he took a five-shot lead to the back nine. He dropped six shots over the next three holes, including two balls in Rae’s Creek on the 12th hole for a quadruple bogey, and wound up three shots behind Danny Willet.
As the Masters looms, Spieth has been fielding more questions about that collapse on the back nine.
“No matter what happens at this year’s Masters, whether I can grab the jacket or I miss the cut or I finish 30th, it will be nice having the Masters go by,” Spieth said Monday night during the draw for the Dell Technologies Match Play.
“The Masters lives on for a year. It brings a non-golf audience into golf. And it will be nice once this year’s finished from my point of view, to be brutally honest with you.”
Spieth has never finished worse than second in the Masters in his three appearances. He was runner-up to Bubba Watson in 2014 after having a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play in 2014, and then he won the green jacket in 2015 by tying the 72-hole scoring record held by Tiger Woods.
He had said after last year’s Masters, “This one will hurt.”
Spieth won the Colonial a month after the Masters, and he already has won this year with a dominating performance at Pebble Beach. The Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook lists him as the 6-1 favorite, slightly ahead of world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
“It would be best if I could reclaim the jacket,” Spieth said. “But I believe that I’ll be back up there sooner or later, just the way that we play the golf course, the success we’ve had and the comfort level I have there. Whether it happens this year or not, but it will just be nice because that tournament, it’s a 365-day thing. There’s no other Masters.”
Spieth said the Masters did not affect him while he was on the golf course, and that he answered those questions with victories at Colonial, the Australian Open and Pebble Beach.
“But as far as just having all the questions done, I’m pretty sure they will be,” he said.
Rory McIlroy isn’t so sure. McIlroy had a four-shot lead going into the final round in 2011 at the Masters and shot 80. McIlroy bounced back to win the U.S. Open two months later, and he since has added three more majors.
“It’s not as if it’s going to be the last year he gets questions about it,” McIlroy said. “That might be the way he’s approaching it. But if he doesn’t banish those demons or win this year, the questions will always still be there.
“I still get questioned about the back nine at Augusta in 2011. It’s just something you have to deal with. It’s something that happened. It’s not going to go away. It’s there and it always will be.”
McIlroy said there is one big difference between him and Spieth at the Masters — Spieth has a green jacket.
“He can console himself by opening up his wardrobe and seeing one hanging there,” McIlroy said.