Jordan Spieth believes he will be better equipped to cope with the pressure of trying to win the Masters after coming close to creating history last year.
Spieth held a two-shot lead after seven holes of the final round 12 months ago as he looked to surpass the absent Tiger Woods as the youngest ever Masters champion, as well as being the first player to win on their tournament debut since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
That lead became a two-shot deficit as he bogeyed the eighth and ninth and Bubba Watson birdied the same holes, Watson eventually going on to win his second green jacket in the space of three years.
Spieth finished joint second with Sweden’s Jonas Blixt and comes into this year’s event having won his second PGA Tour title in the Valspar Championship and finishing second in his next two tournaments.
Speaking about last year’s final round, the 21-year-old said: “That was definitely the highest amount of pressure I’ve ever felt. That first tee shot, I think I hit it into the ninth fairway and was just real quick off the tee. 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 picking fearless shots, and then I kind of bailed out on a couple of swings, trying to look up a little quickly.
“I guess the hardest lesson taken from last year was that I had an opportunity to make a dream come true, and I had it in my hands, and then I was just a little anxious. You can make the excuse that as a first-timer and 20 years old, that that’s likely to happen.
“But in my mind, I was playing the best through 61 holes and had an opportunity to continue that the next 11 holes and didn’t quite close it out.”
Spieth, who has been paired with Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel for the first two rounds, added: “Last year I remember being in here saying I had no expectations, didn’t know what it was going to be like, never played the tournament before.
“This year, I come in maybe expecting to play well on a course I feel very comfortable on. I feel like it suits my game nicely and also I feel like I’ve been playing well.
“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.
“I think 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.”