Jordan Spieth survives ‘bogey’ 12th but nightmares return on 15th

Jordan Spieth had a year to replay the moment his Masters title defence sank without trace. Last night, he buried the demons that had followed him since, yet contrived to create some new ones.

Jordan Spieth survives ‘bogey’ 12th but nightmares return on 15th

Gone was the nightmare of the quadruple bogey that struck the American at the 12th hole 12 months ago, only to be replaced three holes later by a quad on the 15th.

Nothing will erase the memory of the American’s watery slide from the top of the 2016 leaderboard as he made a quadruple-bogey seven at the par-three 12th hole to wipe out what was left of the five-shot lead he had held at the turn and hand top spot to England’s Danny Willett.

That Willett was not so profligate as he collected his first major championship victory by a margin of three strokes will have made Spieth’s duty as outgoing champion all the more difficult on that Sunday evening last April, placing a green jacket on the Englishman’s back that should have been his to wear for the second year running.

The Texan has more than taken his medicine since that day his first two swings at the 12th found the water guarding the green, first off the tee and then from the drop zone. He has been asked about that moment virtually every time he has faced the media these past 12 months but last night presented the earliest opportunity to make amends.

Reaching the 12th in level par during his opening round of the 2017 renewal, Spieth was all business as he strode onto the tee box and looked across Rae’s Creek.

The swing was just as purposeful, the 23-year-old taking no chances in the swirling wind that was making life so difficult at Augusta National on the opening day, and through the stretch containing holes 11, 12 and 13 known as Amen Corner in particular.

The tee shot was deliberate and conservative, landing safely on terra firma towards the back of the green, 34 feet away from the hole, positioned front and centre.

It will have been a mightily relieved 2015 Masters champion who strode over Hogan’s Bridge on route to the putting surface, faithful caddie Mike Grella in tow, although there was no hint of any emotion in Spieth’s face as he was reunited with his ball.

Not even when he rolled his putt downhill towards the hole to just three feet. A tap-in from there, the weight must have lifted from the Dallas golfer’s shoulder but again, there was no betrayal of his emotions, Spieth simply collecting his ball from the cup, turning on his heels and marching off to the 13th tee. Ghosts banished, job done.

Today’s second round, though, will feature a new spectre after Spieth found water at the 15th, his second shot into the par-five green falling short into the pond guarding the putting surface. Playing his fourth shot from the drop zone, he then four-putted for a nine to fall to three-over par.

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