Jordan Spieth is doing everything he can to win the upcoming Masters, starting with making early visits to Augusta National in order to get over the awe factor of competing for the first time amid the towering pines at this much-revered cathedral of golf.
“A lot of guys have told me, going back to last year— ever since I knew I was going to be in the Masters — to try and get there early,” Spieth said in a lengthy pre-tournament interview from the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla. “The course changes a lot, but you want to get there, get the whole awe factor out. I think I’ve done that. I played 27 holes in October right after it opened, and then I played the weekend prior to last week’s WGC. So, the weekend of Honda and I was there, played another 27 holes. I played [holes] 10 and 18 a couple extra times.”
Fuzzy Zoeller, who won the green jacket in 1979, remains the last Masters rookie to win, but Spieth, 20, has proven a fast learner amid his meteoric rise on the PGA Tour. He said his first memory of watching the Masters on TV was when Phil Mickelson made the winning putt in 2004—Spieth was 10—and when Tiger Woods pitched in from the collar of the 16th green in 2005. He recently had dinner with Ben Crenshaw, who like Spieth played golf for the University of Texas, and the two Longhorns planned on playing at least a nine-hole practice round together.
“They say the TV doesn’t put the right elevation into context, and it’s exactly right,” Spieth said. “I didn’t get the full effect of that [two weekends ago, or in October] because the course was softer, the ball is not running all the way down the hills or rolling off the sides.
Certain holes like 13 really amazed me how much that hole doglegs. I thought you kind of sling one around the corner with a 3-wood and it rolls. You’re hitting almost backwards.
“Some of the lines, just the significance of the turns and then obviously the elevation changes were the biggest things,” he added. “And the severity of the greens, obviously.”