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Learning From Losing

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA | Jordan Spieth remembers the one that got away.
He had a two-stroke lead with one hole to play. Another kid birdied the 18th hole. Spieth made a double bogey and lost.
Spieth was 10 or 11 at the time, he can’t remember. He just remembers the Young Guns Junior Golf Tour trophy he didn’t win was taller than he was.
A week or two later, Spieth won a Young Guns event, the first victory in a golf career that glitters with trophies.
That Young Guns event and the 2014 Masters now share a place in Spieth’s memory. When you lead your first Masters by two strokes with 11 holes to play and don’t win, it stays with you.
In some ways, it hardly seemed to matter that Spieth didn’t win. Michael Greller, Spieth’s caddie, told his boss he’d never seen someone “get so many congratulations for losing.”
But it did matter. Like unrequited love, missed chances – whether in a kids’ event or at Augusta National – can linger for a lifetime.
The 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills is the one that stays with Davis Love III.
“I wouldn’t say I’m over it,” Love said. “It still bothers me.”
Nick Faldo remembers the 1983 Open Championship at Birkdale.
“I led with nine to go and blew up on the back nine. I couldn’t handle it,” Faldo said. “That was sowing the seeds on the (swing) rebuild and all sorts of things. That was all part of the learning curve.”
Tom Watson had the 54-hole lead in the 1974 U.S. Open but shot 79 in the final round to finish tied for fifth. In 1975, Watson tied the 36-hole scoring record in the U.S. Open but was 13-over par on the weekend.


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