Augusta, United States: Jordan Spieth missed his chance to make history as the youngest Masters winner but learnt he has the patience to deal with contending at a major championship.
The 20-year-old American settled for a level-par 72 on Sunday and a share of second place with Swede Jonas Blixt at Augusta National, his five-under 283 three shots behind winner Bubba Watson.
Spieth, vying to be the first Masters debutante to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, led by two strokes with 11 holes remaining, but made bogeys at eight and nine while Watson birdied both to take the lead for good.
“I’ve worked my whole life to lead Augusta on Sunday and, although I feel like it’s very early in my career and I’ll have more chances, it’s a stinger,” Spieth said.
“I had it in my hands and I could have gone forward with it and just didn’t quite make the putts and that’s what it came down to. But, ultimately, I’m very happy with the week, happy with where my game is at going forward.
“The standing ovation coming down the back nine of Augusta is a feeling I won’t forget.”
One of the big lessons Spieth learnt is that he has the discipline to wait for the right chances to attack, a key asset when seeking major golf titles.
“I learnt that I actually can have patience,” Spieth said. “That’s something I’ve been struggling with when in these kind of positions. That’s why I don’t think I’ve won more when I’ve had a chance.
“This week I proved to myself that, if I can go in with that kind of attitude, that I’ll be successful more often than not.
“I feel like I’m ready to win. It’s just a matter of time and maybe a little bit of course knowledge.”
Still, the tension of the final group in the last day of a major and a late afternoon start, when he was too excited to sleep very late, all taxed his patience when he needed it most.
“Not quite as patient as I was the first three rounds on holding emotions. I was very close,” Spieth said. “It was still the best I’ve ever done on a Sunday and I know that it can only improve from there and that’s what’s driving me to get back out.”
Spieth’s frustration bubbled over on the back nine, when he slammed a club into the 10th fairway after putting an approach into a bunker, later flipping another club in disappointment.
That was part of lessons Augusta National teaches even the best of players at times.
“To know I was that close and really performed mentally better than I could have anticipated, that’s very reassuring,” Spieth said.
“I feel I’m ready to win on this kind of stage and that’s really cool. I can see why, even when you’re playing your ‘A’ game, it’s difficult for a first time winner to pop up here, because it’s just so hard with the subtleties of the greens.
“It may have made a difference by about three shots during the week.”
Spieth met a season goal and a life’s dream by contending at the Masters on Sunday, even though he did not win.
“Got off to kind of a dream start. I was three-under through the first seven,” Spieth said. “If you told me that when I woke up this morning, I would have thought it would be difficult for me to not win.”
Spieth said he never doubted himself, although he found the water at the par-3 12th for bogey and saw Watson smash a 360-yard drive at 13 to set up a birdie that stretched the margin wide for good.
“I didn’t feel any rush or any kind of extra tension. I still felt confident going into the back nine,” Spieth said. “I still believed I could win.”