DORAL, Fla., -- Just like generations before him who looked at the Florida Swing as the start of the run-up to the Masters, Jordan Spieth says his preparations for defending his green jacket have now begun.
The No. 1 player in the world arrived at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral after a two-day stopover at Augusta National Golf Club. The inspiring visit was just the medicine Spieth needed to get his juices flowing and to wash away the bad taste in his mouth from missing the cut in his last start, the Northern Trust Open.
"When we leave the West Coast and come over to Florida and then in Texas, that's what I think is, 'OK, it's time to get ready for the Masters.' That's just me personally," Spieth, 22, said Wednesday. "The West Coast seems like its own kind of part of the schedule, and it did last year, too. We came into here after playing [at Augusta]. You get the excitement from just being and playing a couple rounds at Augusta National.
"And," he added, "you come into really the final stretch of a few events that you kind of want to knock out everything you can in tournament play, and hopefully grab a win or two in the process, because that's the best way to prepare before heading over there."
For good reason Spieth is replicating the formula that catapulted him to his four-stroke Masters victory last year, stopping at Augusta before competing at Doral and the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., which he won. The Texan tied Tiger Woods' Masters record with an 18-under 270 total, but he doubts, based on his assessment of the greens, that anyone will be shooting that number again.
"There's nothing different about the golf course," he said. "It's even in better shape this far before the event than it has been the last couple years. The greens were very, very quick and very healthy, so I've got a feeling that they are not going to want 18 under to win again."
Spieth opened the year by winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions by eight strokes, but at Riviera he looked out of sorts and his swing was out of rhythm, the product of not finishing his backswing. Whether he sorts it out entirely is not as important as being ready in April for the year's first major. That's not to say he doesn't want to play well this week in an $8.5 million event. But majors are his focus, as he proved last year by winning the U.S. Open as well as the Masters and coming close in the British Open and PGA Championship.
He wasn't happy about missing the cut at Riviera. But his attitude about not having his best stuff was understandable. "Fortunate that it's not a major," he said, pointing out it's not physically possible to prepare the same way for every tournament the way he does a major championship. "Those are the most special tournaments to play all four rounds and to have a chance to win."
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