AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth was a baby-faced rookie when he tied for second at Augusta National last year but on Tuesday he oozed confidence like a veteran while dispensing advice to three Masters debutants.
Spieth, who has been the game’s hottest player over the past six months, was delighted to pass on a few tips about course strategy to his fellow Americans Morgan Hoffmann, Brooks Koepka and Byron Meth as they played a practice round together.
”Three first-timers today, those rookies,“ the world number four told reporters with a broad grin. ”No, we had a really good time. Just picking each other’s brain, talking about how great the place is, how perfect and how pure the course is.
“Morgan and Brooks are both capable of contending here and both have the game for it. Brooks, obviously winning (the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open) earlier this year; and Morgan, a great talent.”
Spieth has recorded three wins and two runner-up spots in his last 11 starts worldwide and heads into Thursday’s opening round at Augusta National as one of the favorites for the title.
“Having been so close last year and having a little experience and riding some momentum, I hope to put myself in contention and use what I’ve learned since last year,” said the 21-year-old Texan.
”At last year’s event, I certainly took a couple things out of it, as well as the positives that came from closing out a couple of tournaments at the end of the year and a few weeks ago.
“Then last week, I had an opportunity to close as well and just missed,” Spieth said of the Houston Open where he lost out in a three-way playoff. “So there’s stuff to take from the close losses and stuff to take from the victories.”
Spieth finished three shots behind champion Bubba Watson at last year’s Masters after leading by two strokes after seven holes in the final round after succumbing to the intense pressure of a major down the stretch.
”That was definitely the highest amount of pressure I’ve ever felt,“ he said. ”I played pretty much the entire round feeling different than I’ve ever felt on the golf course.
“I enjoyed it, but at the same time when you’re feeling that kind of pressure, it’s hard to get comfortable ... so it was very disappointing, because I felt like the golf course was going to play into my hands.”
Editing by Steve Keating.