Humbled Spieth learns patience after ending win drought

Augusta (United States) (AFP) –


Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth had to be humbled before learning the patience that enabled him to snap a four-year win drought and find top form for the 85th Masters.

The 27-year-old American won the US PGA Texas Open on Sunday, his first triumph since the 2017 British Open, a span of 1,351 days and 83 events.

And while Spieth says he still has plenty of work to regain the form that put him on the brink of a career Grand Slam, he's made steady progress from the drought's darkest days.

"I was, I guess, humbled to an extent," Spieth said Monday. "I never felt like I ever got ahead of myself. I never felt like I was out there overly confident. But I think you get humbled a little bit."

Missing a WGC event because he hadn't performed well enough to qualify made a major impact on the 2015 Masters winner.

"It really stunk when I missed the WGC," Spieth said. "That kind of hit me and it was a driving factor.

"I've learned a lot of patience. I probably spent a year of struggling where I was forcing a lot of things, and it just made it worse. But it was just kind of hard not to force it because I just wanted to be back to playing good golf so quickly."

Spieth's search for success led him along paths that only made things worse.

"I just got further off than normally professionals get, and so it has been a climb back," Spieth said. "I feel on the right path, but there's still a lot of work to go.

"I just feel like there's quite a few things that I still need to really improve on and get better."

Spieth won the green jacket with an Augusta National record-tying 18-under-par 270, then won the 2015 US Open and added the Claret Jug to his major trophy haul four years ago at Royal Birkdale.

"It's pretty awesome when I look back and think there's a next level I've been at that I'm still searching for right now," Spieth said.

He'll make a fifth try at winning the PGA and completing the career Slam next month at Kiawah Island, hopeful his game will be better then than it is now.

"I'm not a very patient person in general and I think having to kind of learn patience through struggles is massively important," Spieth said.

"I like the progress that I'm making. I don't feel that I have the control of all facets of my game that I want to have yet, but I feel like I'm working the right direction."

- 'Trust, don't force' -

Spieth learned a lesson about impatrience at the 2016 Masters when a five-stroke lead on Sunday's back nine turned into an epic meltdown.

After bogeys at 10 and 11, he plunked two balls into the water at the par-3 12th and finished second to England's Danny Willett by three strokes.

"For me it's not forcing into the here and now and more just taking the patient route, the momentum route, and just try and do something a little bit better this week than you did the week before, trust something you didn't trust the week before and pull it off and gain that confidence."

Another green jacket would be quite a confidence builder, and Spieth cut short his Texas win celebrating to start his Masters focus, but he's mainly seeking improvement this week.

"Just try to be in form as often as you can and consistent as you can, and you end up holding the trophy at the end every once in a while," Spieth said. "And it was a while since the last time it happened."