Masters champ Spieth thriving on busy life heading into Match Play

It's been a busy spring for Jordan Spieth, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

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SAN FRANCISCO – There is a World Golf Championship at the door, a Players Championship in another week, and the U.S. Open on the horizon. But if you’re thinking that Jordan Spieth heads into this busy stretch operating on fumes, given the whirlwind of activity since his Masters triumph April 12, you don’t know what powers the 21-year-old.

The whirlwind trip to New York City in the aftermath of his triumph at Augusta National … the media frenzy at the RBC Heritage the very next week,which only intensified when he fired a second-round 62 … wearing the green jacket to a Dallas Mavericks game and being saluted by thousands? Wind him up and watch him go.

“The last month I’d say has put more energy into me,” Spieth said Tuesday afternoon, shortly after playing an 18-hole pro-am at TPC Harding Park.Ranked second in the world behind Rory McIlroy, Spieth had played holes eight through 18 the day before, squeezing as much study time as possible into the brief warm-up window to the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship.

The Masters champion conceded that he’s still trying to figure out how to play some of the holes at Harding Park, but he feels prepared and very much in possession of the good form that he has had for months. Spieth will start his tournament with an 11:50 a.m. match Wednesday (2:50 eastern) against Mikko Ilonen of Finland, No. 68 in the Official World Golf Ranking and the last man in the field. (Ilonen earned his spot when Phil Mickelson withdrew Sunday.)

What will follow for Spieth are matches Thursday against Matt Every and Friday vs. Lee Westwood, but he hasn’t been caught up in the trappings of this new round-robin format that features four players in each of 16 groups. The winners of those 16 groups will advance to Saturday’s fourth round, at which time a more traditional knock-out format will be employed. If others have studied their group and questioned the luck of the draw and how some have drawn tougher assignments than others, Spieth has taken a simpler path.

“I don’t think (the change in format) does anything,” he said. “It’s more hype for (the media). It’s more hype for the public. But all in all, it’s pretty much win or go home.”

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It’s this old-school, no-nonsense mentality that has endeared Spieth to colleagues many years older. But at last year’s Match Play Championship, the then 20-year-old was quick to concede he was acting his age. Frustrated by how so many of his putts slid by while so many fell for Ernie Els, Spieth displayed body language and emotions that befitted the way things ended that day – he lost, 4 and 2.

Afterward, Els talked about how in match play you never want the opponent to sense your frustration level, and that Spieth failed miserably. But where he succeeded exponentially was in taking ownership; he went public with his apologies and said he would learn from it, that he’d discovered a new level of respect for his responsibilities.

Call it mission accomplished, because not only has Spieth won a Masters, risen to No. 2 in the OWGR and been thrust into a new stratosphere of media attention, he has handled it all with a level of dignity and character that has PGA Tour officials licking their chops. His is a star that has arrived, but Spieth remains grounded in a belief that there is so much further to go.

“Having inched closer and accomplished some of my major goals, at this point I’m inching closer and closer to more goals that I have,” Spieth said.

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