U.S. Open: Preparation key for ultra-consistent Spieth


Amid all the understandable talk of Jordan Spieth's Masters meltdown ahead of this week's U.S. Open, one hugely impressive statistic is perhaps in danger of being overlooked.

World number two Spieth knows full well he will be reminded of April's back-nine woes at Augusta - which saw him throw away a commanding lead by dropping six shots in three holes, including four at the short 12th alone - for some time yet, regardless of future successes.

Yet although the young Texan ultimately came up short in his bid for successive wire-to-wire wins at the Masters, he nevertheless extended his streak of being involved at the business end of every major championship since the beginning of 2015.

After claiming a prestigious green jacket last year, Spieth also triumphed in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay to spark excited talk of a potential calendar Grand Slam.

That feat proved beyond him, yet Spieth was very much in contention at both The Open and US PGA Championship, missing out on a play-off at St Andrews by a solitary stroke before finishing second to Jason Day at Whistling Straits.

After recording five top-four finishes in succession at majors, Spieth was asked this week to explain his ability to consistently challenge for golf's biggest prizes.

"I think part of it is just spending that time to get to know the golf course. Part of it is spending that extra time practicing," he replied.

"I really feel like we get into these courses and spend more and more time dissecting ... I mean, the time that we put in at a major, you can't put in every single week. There's just not enough time there. You'll wear yourself out.

"Other than that, a lot of it is just mental. I feel that we've geared everything up to peak at a major. And because I feel that way, it makes me as confident as I can be.

"Is my game always [as good as it can be]? No. The Masters this year, tee to green, I felt much worse than I did at tour events where I finished 25th, but because I just felt that we were ready and that we could do it and I could draw on past experience, especially at that event, we got into contention.

"I willed the putts in. I couldn't really describe it to you other than it just being kind of a mental state of being confident at the majors."

Having already bounced back from his Augusta pain with victory on the PGA Tour - at last month's Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial - Spieth expects to retain a positive mindset at Oakmont with the aid of trusted caddie Michael Greller.

"Although our last major [where] we were in contention was the Masters, I think I'll be able to draw on a lot of pretty special major experiences if I can't bring it off the Colonial experience itself," Spieth explained.

"Last year when we were in contention at Chambers Bay, Michael kept saying, listen, you've already got a major, and these guys don't. They're not sure what it's like to win that first one. You do, you've got this.

"That was a nice feeling for him to tell me, and there is a significant difference there. So I think I'll be able to try and continue to say that."

Picking a winner at Oakmont appears tough, with the course expected to prove fiendishly difficult. Yet few would be surprised if defending champion Spieth is in the mix again when the leaders reach the back nine on Sunday.