April 08, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Jordan Spieth is making his first Masters start at age 20. (Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jordan Spieth is playing in his first Masters. So is Patrick Reed, one of his playing partners for the first two rounds this week.
The other member of that trio is Rory McIlroy, who has two major wins under his belt and much more experience at Augusta National.
All three players are in their 20s, with McIlroy the old man of the group at age 24. While the 20-year-old Spieth looks forward to playing with his fellow young guns, he doesn't see any difference than had he been paired with, say, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw, who have combined for 82 Masters starts.
"Whoever I was paired with in this tournament is a great pairing," Spieth said Tuesday. "I don't know if it's necessarily beneficial versus any other pairing. ...
"On this golf course, you've got so much to think about in your own game that I don't think you really pay too much attention to who is across from you -- until you may need to on the weekend."
Incidentally, Spieth had scheduled a practice round with Watson and Crenshaw for Monday, but heavy rains forced them to cancel their plans. Instead, they shared a few stories on the practice green, with Watson and Crenshaw doing most of the talking and Spieth just soaking it up.
Thanks to his talks with Crenshaw, a fellow Texan, Spieth has a better idea of how to putt on the 11th and 12th greens, which are greatly influenced by the nearby Rae's Creek. Spieth's caddie Michael Greller has also spoken at length with Crenshaw's longtime caddie Carl Jackson in hopes of learning more about the nuances of Augusta National.
Will it pay off for Spieth? History certainly isn't on his side. Fuzzy Zoeller, in 1979, is the only player to win as a Masters rookie since Gene Sarazen in 1935. And no player at age 20 has ever won the Masters.
No big deal, Spieth said.
"I think it's anybody's tournament to win on Tuesday and Wednesday," he added, "so if I can get my game ready and play to the right spots and play smart golf and play my 'A' Game, then I believe that I have a chance."