Having put his Masters collapse behind him with positive reassurance from “some of the greatest athletes in the world,” Jordan Spieth said he is excited to check Oakmont Country Club off his bucket list when he plays a practice round there Wednesday as the defending U.S. Open champion.
“I’m not taking it very hard,” Spieth said Tuesday during a press conference at the FedEx office complex in Coraopolis. “I’ve got ladies at grocery stores coming up and putting their hand on me going, ‘I’m really praying for you. How you doing?’ My dog didn’t die. I’m doing ok. I’ll survive. It happens. I laugh about it now, I really do.”
Spieth wasn’t laughing after he built a five-shot lead heading to the back nine at Augusta National last month, then gave away the lead when he put two balls in Rae’s Creek and made a quadruple bogey at the par-3 12th. After leading the Masters for 65 holes and looking like a sure bet to become only the fourth player in history to win back-to-back green jackets, Spieth lost to Danny Willett of England.
Spieth said it would take him a long time to get over the disappointment, but it appears he has done so before ever playing in another PGA Tour event. He was in the Pittsburgh area Tuesday afternoon for a ceremony in which a $1 million donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was made in his name as the reigning FedEx Cup champion.
“It will keep coming up, I understand that, and it’s tough every time it comes up,” Spieth said. “It was very tough to go through. At the same time, I have a couple major victories to draw on.
“We’ve now, coming down the stretch, had a chance to win six majors, including five in a row, and I won two of them. That’s still a pretty good percentage. … A third of the time. Considering my age and hopefully continued good health, if we keep that percentage up we’ll be all right.”
After failing to repeat as Masters champion, Spieth can now try to become the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens. Only five other players in history have accomplished the feat. He will start his preparation when he plays Oakmont for the very first time in the morning.
“It’s one of the great golf courses in the United States,” Spieth said. “It’s a bucket-lister for me.”