Last year on Sunday at the Masters, Jordan Spieth took a one-shot lead to Augusta National’s 12th hole. He proceeded to make quadruple-bogey there, catalyzing a collapse that cost the world’s best young player his second green jacket.
Spieth returned to Augusta for his first tournament round since then on Thursday. Everything was in good order for a while. Spieth was 1-under through 13 holes, having made birdie at the par-5 13th. Spieth bogeyed on the 14th to go back to even, and everything went off the rails on his next hole.
On No. 15, Spieth made quadruple-bogey again — a preposterous nine on a par-5 hole, the worst score there on Thursday by a full two shots. He moved to four strokes over par and a full seven shots behind leader Matthew Fitzpatrick, about a half-hour after his deficit was a single stroke. Spieth is now a long way from serious contention.
Spieth needed five strokes just to set up a chip from the side of the 15th green. He sent that chip well past the hole, then required an uncharacteristic three putts to hole the ball. He left his last putt short from just a few feet away.
The 15th is a difficult hole, and it’s played as such on Thursday. It’s set up at 530 yards long, and there’s been gusting wind at Augusta for most of the day. The average score there has been about 5.3, making it the fifth-hardest hole on the course. There’d have been no shame in bogeying or even making double.
Spieth did recover to make birdie on the next hole, which was good to see. But he’s going to have to really grind on Friday to have any chance at all heading into the weekend. The position of strength he’d been in has now evaporated.