The Masters: Jordan Spieth justified in keeping faith with coach and caddie

Jordan Spieth insisted he never doubted himself or the team behind him as he took full responsibility for the loss of form that saw him go almost four years without a victory.

Spieth resisted calls to make drastic changes and stood by long-time caddie Michael Greller and coach Cameron McCormick, a decision that was justified as he warmed up for The Masters with an impressive victory at the Valero Texas Open – his first title since The Open in 2017.

Towards the end of January, Spieth was on the verge of dropping out of the top 100 in the world rankings and failed to qualify for the WGC-Workday Championship in February despite top-four finishes in Phoenix and at Pebble Beach – the first time since 2013 that he was ineligible for a World Golf Championship event.

“I think I was, I guess, humbled to an extent,” said Spieth as he faced the media shortly after his arrival at Augusta National on Monday. “I never felt like I ever got ahead of myself, I never felt like I was overly confident, but I think you get humbled a little bit.

“It really stung when I missed the World Golf Championship, I think that was the first one that I didn’t qualify for. When there was a tournament being played that week that I was healthy and could play in and just didn’t have a spot in the tournament, that kind of hit me and it was a driving factor, I think, in continuing.

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“I think I’ve learned a lot of patience. I probably spent a year of struggling where I was forcing a lot of things, and it just made it worse. But it was just kind of hard not to force it because I just wanted to be back to playing good golf so quickly, but sometimes less is more.

“I’m not a very patient person in general, and I think having to kind of learn patience through struggles is massively important, where taking a step back and maybe taking a full month away from the game and kind of coming back with a new game-plan and new set plan and sticking to it.”

Spieth was advised in some circles to consider a fresh start with a new coach and caddie, but he insisted his problems were down to him to “take ownership” of as he kept faith with those that have supported him throughout his career.

“I think I needed to look back and take responsibility,” he added. “It’s part of the game. Some people on certain levels and some people on others. I mean, it’s not like I lost my PGA Tour card. I just wasn’t winning three times a year. It’s all about whatever the expectations of the individual are and what they can manage from the outside.

“For me it was taking ownership and this is what happened. I believe in my team. They have proven themselves to be the best in the world, and how can we all get a little bit better through this and what steps are we going to take forward to be able to feel this momentum together as we start to make progress in the right direction and then believing that that’s happening.

“I’ve shut everything off for a number of years, actually, even when I was first, second in the world. I just don’t think it’s useful. If you get to where you’re No 1 in the world, I don’t really see why anyone who has not been in that position should be giving advice that you would then take to mean something.”

Spieth now arrives for the first major of the year as one of the favourites, but he remains wary that he is still not playing to the very best of his ability and he is not putting undue pressure on himself to become a two-time Masters champion his week.

“I’m 27, and a lot of people’s careers get started at 27 in this sport,” Spieth said. “So there’s a lot of ways to look at it. I think for me it’s not forcing into kind of the here and now and more just taking the patient route and taking the momentum route and just try to do something just a little bit better this week than you did the week before.

“I like the progress that I’m making. I don’t feel that I have the control of all facets of my game that I want to have yet, but I feel like I’m working the right direction. Will that make a difference this week? Don’t know. But I’m going to work at trying to just be a little bit better than I was last week.”

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