"Golf is a game that is played on a 5 inch course - the distance between your ears." -- Bobby Jones
There are countless variables involved for a golfer to come close to reaching his potential (no one conquers the game). Start with talent - and a repeatable swing.
Perhaps the hardest obstacle to overcome is time.
The time between shots.
Time for indecision to set in.
Time for the mind to wander away from the mantra "It's the Process, Not the Product," to instead think about the consequences - good or bad, that will entail from your effort.
Time for any sliver of doubt to expand.
No matter how talented you are, how confident, how sure of your swing you are, until you have spent 4 hours under the white hot spotlight of a Major Sunday, you cannot possibly know how to compartmentalize the flood of emotions that overwhelm you.
Jordan Spieth, mature beyond his years, discovered Sunday exactly what the pressure of a Major feels like, and will no doubt file it away for future use.
The 20-year old Dallas native discovered how fleeting momentum can be when after jumping out to a 2-shot lead through 7 holes on the final round at the Masters, he slipped up on #8. Bubba Watson, who won at Augusta just two years ago, jumped on the first sign of weakness from Spieth, and produced a 4-shot swing in just two holes.
Watson backed up his 2012 Masters win with a killer 3-under par 69, refusing to press when Spieth took the early lead, and then never taking his foot off the gas until he putted out on #18. All you need to know about the creative game of Bubba Watson was that ridiculous second shot he hit on the par 5 #15 today. Bubba continued to play Bubba golf all round, a lesson Spieth no doubt will take to heart.
Spieth may have blinked on the front 9, but he didn't wilt. He tee shot on the dangerous par 3 #12 could have ballooned to a huge number, but he made the best of a bad situation and salvaged a bogey. There were missed putts, but they weren't tentative, instead slightly misread.
You have to believe that eventually the week at Augusta will pay dividends for Spieth. He respects the game and those who came before him. Last Monday, practice was washed out, but Spieth spend time on the practice green with Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson, soaking up knowledge of not only how to win, but how to handle winning as well.
Wednesday night there was a party for club members, including obviously past winners. Players in this year's tournament were also invited, but most chose to prepare for Thursday's start. Spieth was one of the few current players to attend, where he spent time with Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus reinforced the advice that Crenshaw had already passed along: there is no need to go for flag hunting, you will find little trouble from the middle of the greens at Augusta.
Even Spieth's caddie was on board with getting an advanced education. Michael Greller spent time with Crenshaw's legendary caddie, Carl Jackson, who went over Augusta National hole by hole, adding an incredible amount of course knowledge to Greller's yardage book.
If nothing else, Spieth should have potential sponsor's lining up starting Monday. He was spectacular in the media room, easy going, respectful ("Mr. Crenshaw advised me"), without sounding like Eddie Haskell.
Someone asked who gets the "Mr." tag, and he said anyone than him. Even Bubba Watson?
"Yeah, Mr. Watson for sure," Spieth smiled. "Just because it'll mess with him".
If you heard him after Sunday's round finished, you again witnessed a poised 20-year old who knows who he is and is very comfortable in his own skin.
You saw a golfer who loved the pressure of Sunday, hated losing, and is determined to change that.
You also saw a golfer whose personal "5-inch course" is of major championship caliber.