AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth hasn't so much set a precedent as shift the paradigm with his first five appearances at Augusta National. The 25-year-old has held the lead at day's end in nine of 20 career rounds, and his 70.05 scoring average is the best among the 2019 Masters field (and would be a tournament best, but he's yet to log enough rounds to qualify). Not that all of these outings were prosperous, as Danny Willett's appearance this week reminds, but it's an impressive body of work.
Highlighted by his performance at the 2015 Masters. In just his second go-around at the event, Spieth became the first wire-to-wire winner in four decades, racking up a tournament-record 28 birdies to tie the Masters scoring mark at 18 under. It was a tour de force that announced the arrival of golf's newest star.
So perhaps it's apropos that Spieth, in the midst of a career-worst slump, found solace on Monday in a re-run of his 2015 triumph.
"Last night they were doing a replay on the Golf Channel, and 2015 was on and my dad came over and I was just over hanging watching the pre‑National Championship game, and he said, 2015 is on, do you want to watch it," Spieth said Tuesday at Augusta National. "I said, sure, you can turn it on. We were playing cards, it was just on in the background. It was really cool to relive, especially the final—I think we picked it up maybe Saturday—and it was fun to relive some of those shots and some of the putts that were holed.
"You know, I was kind of commentating to my team, the people that were around me on some of it, and it was very memorable because it was the highest of highs I've had in this sport."
His commenting remark begged a follow-up, wondering what moments have left an indelible mark.
"I would say, like I look at 16 as probably the most clutch putt I've ever hit in my life," Spieth said of his save at the par 3. "And I think, like Justin Rose, if you asked him, he would say that that was probably the most clutch putt that I've hit in my entire life, just being in that situation, understanding, you know, where he's at, what it could mean going forward and just making those last couple holes easier.
"Certainly, out here, people always talk about it, but your second shot into 13, I mean, the ball is above your feet more than any other shot you'll hit on the PGA Tour, or any tournament, the whole year, and it's awkward to have to hit a long iron off that and like what ball flight do you play, do you hold it off of it, draw it off of it. So that shot's always definitely different than it may look sometimes, especially when I'm not hitting it 350 yards up there and have an 8‑iron in. You know, when you're hitting 5‑iron in, it's certainly a tougher shot."
And, like any commentator worth his salt, Spieth sprinkled in some levity with his recollections.
"The funniest thing about watching it was like seeing how many putts were holed by like Phil or a bunker shot or, you know, putts that were holed, like Tiger gave a big fist pump on one hole. It's just funny like listening to, he makes a big putt and gets to six back. I'm like, wow, that's way up there," Spieth said to laughter. "I'm really tearing that place up. Certain guys are like really pumped up about a putt, and it's like, I was just kind of going about my business in the zone that week."
Being impressed by your own dominance? That's downright Mickelson-ian, without the unambiguity.
As for Spieth in the present, his recent struggles against the juxtaposition of his Masters success is one the primary storylines heading into the tournament. Despite his underwhelming start to 2019, Spieth's conviction remains steadfast.
"My expectations are high this week," Spieth said. "I feel great about the state of my game right now. "I feel like my recent results aren't a tell of where my game is actually at, and I feel I've made a lot of strides in the last couple days in the tee‑to‑green game, really just off the tee, my long game, which has been the only separation from being able to win golf tournaments over the last month or so.
"I feel really good about my game, where it's at, heading into this week. It's just a matter of trust in the stuff that I'm working on, and I don't feel like I have to play well. I don't feel like there's any added pressure this week. I feel kind of under the radar, which is really nice."
If his play resembles anything like what we saw in 2015, that will change in a hurry.