How It Wasn’t Jordan Spieth’s 12th Hole Collapse That Cost Him the Green Jacket at the 2016 Masters

-Alan Manalansan

While the majority of headlines revolved around Jordan Spieth hitting 2 balls in the water on hole #12, it was what happened just beforehand that was more significant..

When Spieth stepped onto the 10th tee with a 5-stroke lead (and an active streak of 4 straight birdies, no less), he decided to play it safe as he pulled his 3-wood instead of his driver.. Not a bad call since he probably had 2011 on his mind (when Rory McIlroy held a similarly comfortable lead and double crossed his driver to pull his tee shot way left into the cottages that sat along the fairway, he ultimately lost the Masters).. Spieth laid back on his tee shot and the ball landed in the 1st cut of rough on the right side.. Spieth missed the green with his approach and failed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker..

Bogey..

Standing on the tee at the 11th hole, Spieth conceded that his conservative mindset was not going to work here.. Facing a blind tee shot and water guarding the left side of the green, he was going to need all the length he could muster off the tee so he could be surgical with his shorter irons on his approach.. So out came the driver.. After all, he still thought he was sitting on a 4-stroke lead entering Amen Corner.. But the tee shot was pushed right and he was forced to punch out of the trees with his 2nd shot.. Now, having to get up-and-down to make par at 11, Spieth hit a great approach for his 3rd shot that left him with a very make-able par putt.. Despite a handful of sloppy shots, this 3rd on the 11th was an impressive one and I think I know why..

Jordan Spieth had no idea that [eventual winner] Danny Willett had just birdied his last two holes, now only 2-strokes behind..

The game changer that was never mentioned was the leaderboard that was displayed on the other side of the water hazard next to the 11th green.. So when Spieth arrived at the green to attempt his very make-able par putt, he likely glanced up at the leaderboard to see that Willett had closed the gap..

He missed the par putt.. Another bogey..

Now, Spieth was clinging to a slim 1-stroke lead instead of the 5-stroke lead that he had enjoyed just two holes ago.. Both his conservative & his aggressive game plans had just failed him, and in front of him was what has been called ‘The Hardest Par 3 in Golf’.. Anyone would feel the pressure under those conditions..

What happened next was the quadruple bogey heard ‘round the world; the rest is history.. To Spieth’s credit, he battled back with birdies on 13 & 15.. But it was too little too late as his birdie putt on 16 burned the left edge & he held on too tight with his approach on 17 which landed in the bunker short of the green.. The experience of winning the previous year was helpful, but a close battle down the stretch of the back 9 on Sunday at the Masters was uncharted territory even for Spieth..

There are plenty of learning opportunities for Jordan Spieth to take away from his 12th hole collapse, I just hope he values the experience from the entire back nine just as much..

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