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Spieth faces meltdown memories as McIlroy, DJ did

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AUGUSTA, United States, April 2 - Jordan Spieth says he is over last year's Masters meltdown, where a final round collapse wrecked his dream of being the first back-to-back green jacket winner since 2002.

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But the acid test of his recovery comes next week at Augusta National, 12 months after the implosion which saw him blow a five-stroke lead with nine holes to play, to hand England's Danny Willett the title.

"We won in Colonial three starts later so as far as affecting me on course when I'm in a tournament, I think that answer is clear, it doesn't do that," Spieth said. "As far as just having all the questions be done, I'm pretty sure they will be."

Spieth, the 2015 Masters and US Open winner, faces bad memories similar to those that haunt other major champions, including Rory McIlroy, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a Masters victory.

McIlroy appeared set to claim his first major title at Augusta National back in 2011, leading by four shots as the last round began. Instead, he fired an eight-over-par 80, an off-target shocker off the 10th tee heralding a back-nine disaster as Charl Schwartzel took the title.

But the Northern Ireland star bounced back to win his next major start, taking the US Open at Congressional two months later by eight strokes with a tournament-record low score.

"I still get questioned about the back nine at Augusta in 2011," McIlroy said. "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."

- Questions will remain -

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Regarding Spieth, McIlroy notes "no matter what happens this year, those questions will still be there and linger a little bit," but the US star can feel better having won the 2015 Masters.

"When he opens his wardrobe and already sees a green jacket in there, I'm sure he can console himself," McIlroy said.

"It happens. Everyone has had tough losses where things haven't went their way and it's just about getting back up on the horse and getting after it again.

"I think once Jordan gets past the 12th hole in the first round this year, it will be over and done with," McIlroy added, referring to the par-three hole which saw Spieth post a quadruple-bogey last year.

"Same thing with me, once I got past the 10th hole in 2012 and the first round, it was me, I was done. I looked over, I saw where I hit it, I had a bit of a laugh and then that was it. And it's done, it's over, you move forward and you don't think about it again."

McIlroy said that in 2012, "I couldn't wait for the Masters to start because I wanted redemption and I wanted a chance to prove myself again."

Spieth has similar emotions, saying: "No matter what happens at this year's Masters, whether I can grab the jacket back or I miss the cut or I finish 30th, it will be nice having this Masters go by."

- 'He's going to be fine' -

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Australia's Jason Day, whose first major win came at the 2015 PGA Championship, can relate to the sting of missed opportunities that Spieth might face with six other top-4 major finishes.

"It goes in there and kind of sits around in your head a little bit but sooner or later it kind of goes off and you're done with it," Day said. "It hurt and stung (Spieth) at the time. But he has done pretty good with his career thus far. He's going to be fine going into Augusta."

Reigning US Open champion and world number one Dustin Johnson, a Masters favorite after winning his past three starts, knows frustration as well.

He led the 2010 PGA by one stroke on the last tee. Instead of a bogey and a playoff, Johnson was ruled to have grounded his club in a bunker, a two-shot penalty that doomed his title chances and stays with him, calling it the worst of several major near misses.

"It wasn't hard to get over, but it was just pretty disappointing, when you think you're going into a playoff and then 30 seconds later, nope, you're not," said Johnson, who endured several other near misses before a major win.

"I feel like I could have had a few more, but that's just major championships -- it's very hard to get it done."

Published : April 02, 2017

By : AFP