Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Excited for Masters, Spieth looks to get game ready in Houston

To describe Jordan Spieth as jazzed for his first major title defense would, perhaps, be an understatement.

"The Masters is [less than] 10 days away," Spieth said Wednesday at the Shell Houston Open. "Just saying that makes you just want to go out and do pushups or something, just like it makes you really, really excited."

Spieth comes into this week's Masters precursor in a different place than a year ago. For one, he's the reigning Masters champion -- the U.S. Open winner, too. He's also not playing as well as he was last year. When he showed up to the Golf Club of Houston a year ago, he'd won the Valspar Championship in a playoff and, the prior week, finished runner-up to Jimmy Walker at the Valero Texas Open.

This year, Spieth has won already -- an eight-shot romp at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- and posted top-25 finishes in four of fives starts since. But he's also posted high opening numbers in two of his last three stroke-play events and, at times, has showed visible signs of frustration with his game. Spieth believes he is through that minor rough patch and, after a visit with swing instructor Cam McCormick earlier in the week, ready to contend.

"Everything is exactly where it was last year," Spieth said. "It's right where we want it to be going into the Masters. It's just a matter now of hitting nerve-racking shots and putts before that week, which means I got to get myself into contention this week."

Even if Spieth doesn't get to the top of the board this week, the 22-year-old Texan is convinced the experiences of the last 12 months prepare him to be in contention whenever it happens. After all, Spieth also won four more times after he lost that Houston playoff against J.B. Holmes (who withdrew from the tournament Wednesday with a shoulder injury).

"I feel like I would be a better player if I were in contention next week than I was last year, and even this week, having the success from last year and also the failures. We had both last year," Spieth said.

The world No. 2 believes in employing the same approach to the majors as last year. Why mess with success? And Spieth said there's no lack of motivation to win a second Masters title -- if for no other reason than he wants to keep his green jacket with him a little longer. The reigning champion holds on to their green jacket for a year, then they hand it back to the club for safe keeping.

"It seems maybe silly that that would be motivation," he said, "but, you know, it's things like that that make a difference."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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