The Follow-Through: Spieth can't close on the big stage yet

 

The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Another Sunday at a big tournament, another Sunday in which Jordan Spieth failed to close.

After entering the final round of the Players Championship tied for the lead with Martin Kaymer, Spieth birdied the fourth to pull ahead.

However, he posted five bogeys over his next 11 holes to fall well off the pace and eventually card a final-round 2-over 74 to finish in a share of fourth place.

Four weeks earlier, Spieth entered the eighth hole of the Masters with a 2- shot lead over Bubba Watson before tripping to back-to-back bogeys to fall behind and never recover.

That is two of the biggest tournaments of the season to date when Spieth failed to hang on to leads.

Where a couple of devastating losses like those would damage the psyche of most 20-year-olds, Spieth seems to be taking the experience in stride.

After his most recent collapse at the Players, Spieth said, "I'm disappointed right now in how I performed, but, you know, I think I'm on the path to good things. It's been a great year of putting myself in a lot of positions and having new experiences instead of having to come from behind trying to hold leads. I think that is something that it takes a little time to adapt to and, hopefully, I'm done trying now.

"I hope I look back one day and laugh at these moments, which I think that I'll do," he continued. "Today was just a bad round of golf. It doesn't matter what day it was, it wouldn't have made a difference, I was just off my game today."

That's a surprising amount of maturity for someone as young as Spieth, but I guess when you have had as much success as he has experienced in such a short amount of time, you just assume you will be in contention on a regular basis.

He came from out of nowhere last season with an historic playoff win at the John Deere Classic, which granted him full tour status. With that victory, the then-19-year-old became the first teenager to win a PGA Tour event since Johnny McDermott collected the title of the 1911 U.S. Open.

Over his next nine starts of the season, Spieth missed just one cut while ending inside the top 20 in all but two events, including a second-place finish at the Wyndham Championship, where he lost to Patrick Reed in a playoff.

That meteoric rise from out of obscurity earned Spieth PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors, and he has carried that stellar play into the 2013-14 season, as he has missed just two cuts and has six top-10s in 14 starts.

Although he has not won since July, Spieth has shown a consistent talent that will no doubt see him collect multiple titles over his career, and it can be assumed at least one of those future victories will come in a major.

The only thing standing in his way is his struggles on Sundays on the big stage.

Right now, those struggles may be contributed to his youth and the pressure of playing in front of a national audience, but in the future that will become less and less relevant as he grows accustomed to the moment.

As a form of reference, Tiger Woods did not win his first major until he was 21, when he earned his first of four Masters titles in 1997.

I'm not insinuating Spieth will have the type of career Woods has up to this point, just pointing out that Woods was making his seventh appearance in a major for that win.

Woods' best major finish up to that point was a share of 22nd place at the 1996 British Open as an amateur.

Spieth's runner-up at the most recent Masters was just his third major appearance and he will make his fourth in just under a month at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Maybe by then Spieth can figure out what has been plaguing him down the stretch of big tournaments.

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