USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armour breaks down how Sergio Garcia beat out Justin Rose in a playoff to win the 2017 Masters.
USA TODAY Sports
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth’s psyche is just fine, thank you, and not even another Masters disappointment will shake it.
He’s already won the biggest prize there is. Another green jacket only adds to what he’s already done while nothing – nothing – can ever take away from it.
“Fortunately,” Spieth said Sunday night, “I get to come back for another 50 years.”
Spieth wasn’t putting up a front as he said it. Sure, he wanted to win here and there will be some twinges of regret when he looks back on this week. The quadruple bogey in his first round, which left him in a hole, is one shot he’d like to have back. So, too, that bogey on his first hole Sunday.
And, of course, yet another splashdown on No. 12 in the final round.
But his belief in himself remains solid. He knows there will be more chances to build on an already impressive legacy, even as he knows that legacy could have been all the more imposing.
“After the first round, it would have been easy to throw in the towel,” said Spieth, whose 75 matched his worst round at Augusta National, set Thursday. “But we fought hard and had chance to win this thing. … I didn’t really lose belief until, obviously, that one on 12 fell a little short.”
The epic showdown between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose was tremendous, no question. But this tournament was Spieth’s to win going into Sunday’s final round and everybody who has watched him play Augusta National knew it.
He had clawed and scratched his way back from a brutal opening round, where he’d made a 9 – yes, you read that right – on 15. He was bogey-free for a 29-hole stretch during the second and third rounds, making nine birdies to scramble up the leaderboard.
When the third round ended and he lurked just two strokes behind Garcia and Rose, it sure looked like a done deal.
And what a story that would have been, the ultimate tale of redemption.
Spieth made a run last year at Greg Norman’s hold on worst Masters meltdown, throwing away his second green jacket with that quadruple-bogey on No. 12. That he’d already won one was the only thing keeping it from topping Norman.
It’s the kind of implosion that can haunt a career, and Spieth has been asked about it a time or 200 over the last 12 months.
But he didn’t win two majors before his 22nd birthday by being fragile, and he breezed through 12 in his first round of the week. The rest of his round wasn’t so great, but he made up for it on Friday and Saturday.
Sleeping on the 54-hole lead at Augusta National is never easy, and even less so when Spieth is just over your shoulder.
But his day unraveled quickly. A bogey on No. 1. And No. 3. And No. 6. And No. 10.
“Out here, distance control is so key,” Spieth said. “I was two yards into the rough so many times today and it makes a huge difference on controlling the distance out of the rough. It’s a coin flip. Is it going to jump or come out spinning? And I missed those coin flips four, five?for?five.
“I mean, I lost five coin flips on my guess.”
There was no coin flip on No. 12, just another shot in the drink. When he made another bogey on 14, he was 2 over for the tournament.
Though it changed little except for where he finished in the final standings, Spieth would rally once again. With three birdies in his last four holes, he got back to 1 under for the tournament. His tie for 11th was his worst finish at the Masters – but that’s simply nitpicking given he finished second, first and second in his first three trips here.
“I’m taking a lot of positives out of this week, I really am,” Spieth said. “There wasn’t going to be a whole lot I could have done today. … I would have had to shoot a tremendous round and the round of the day by a couple shots, I think, by a shot or two, after already coming back. And that’s tough to do.
“So, not going to beat myself up whatsoever over today.”
He’s got a green jacket, and nothing can ever change that.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.