“I'm tired,” Former Texas Longhorn Jordan Spieth said after his fifth career top-three finish at the Masters. “I felt some mental fatigue for sure and made a couple of bonehead mistakes over the weekend, just from, I think, maybe the long stretch."
And after four days on one of the most unforgiving courses in all of professional golf, that should come as no surprise.
It was a frustrating day for Spieth, who finished the tournament tied for third place on the leaderboard with Xander Schauffle, and felt was just a few mistakes away from being in contention on Sunday.
Despite that, Spieth still found himself within striking distance of the leader and eventual champion, Hideki Matsuyama, heading into his final round.
In order to catch Matsuyama, however, Spieth would have to play near-perfect golf -- much like the rounds he played from 2014-2016 when he looked like he was born for Augusta's challenges.
That still may be the case, but on Sunday, that plan went out the window early, as a mentally-fatigued Spieth opened the final round with three bogeys on his first six holes, making the climb back to Matsuyama nearly insurmountable.
“I just didn't have a great start," Spieth said. "Then it was just kind of the story of the week. I hit some good putts, burned a lot of lips, certainly struck the ball well enough to win the golf tournament, and they just didn't go in. Certainly, had them go in here plenty of times.”
Spieth was able to recover, scoring five birdies on the back nine, including four in six holes from No. 9 to No. 14, but bogeyed the final hole, sending him back down to seven-under on the day.
In any other Masters, a final round 70 would have been more than satisfactory, but here, it simply wasn't enough, and that slow start, in addition to a handful of missed opportunities, made it too difficult to catch the streaking Matsuyama.
All in all, in fact, Spieth's weekend at the Masters was one of the most impressive in the entire field, with the former Longhorn hitting a tournament-best 56 greens in regulation, and hitting 42 of 56 fairways. Spieth was also the first player to birdie No. 10 on all four days of play.
Still, Spieth feels there were plenty of issues holding him back from making his leap to the front of the leaderboard during the tournament.
“I wish that I had the control of my swing that I hope is coming or I think is coming soon because it would have made things a little easier this week,” Spieth said. “Structurally, it’s still not matching up where I want it to, and I feel like I’m doing a significant movement to try and get there. I still have a little bit of the old tendencies, but I get it in a better striking position, with the wrists in a better place, the clubface, and the shaft plane in a much better place, which is why I’m able to come out and contend.”
Mechanical issues notwithstanding, Spieth's journey back to prominence is certainly on the right track, as Sunday marked his fifth top-five in his last eight outings, and moved him to sixth place in the FedExCup standings.
But if you ask him, there is significant work left to be done.
“All in all, I've made a lot of good progress, but I feel like that road ahead is still significant for me.”
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