It's being called the "most shocking collapse in golf history", and it was painful to watch. Jordan Spieth lost a five-shot lead on the back nine of the final round of The Masters, and it included a quadruple bogey seven at the Par 3 12th hole. After a birdie at the ninth hole gave Spieth a five-shot lead, just 45 minutes later he found himself trailing by four strokes, and eventually went on to lose the tournament to Danny Willett.
Like most people watching the final round of The Masters, I was pulling for Spieth. I wanted to see him win back-to-back green jackets. I feel bad for him. But, at the same time, what happened to Spieth on Sunday can actually play to his favor and make him an even more dominant force on the PGA Tour. I'm not saying losing is a good thing. I'm saying the lessons that come from such a painful loss will make him even more mentally tough and a better player in the future.
Last year, Jordan Spieth took the golfing world by storm at 22 years of age, almost making it seem too easy. He ended up winning five times on tour including two majors, capturing the FedEx cup, and pocketing more than $31 million in his young PGA career. It was an unbelievable streak where he showed the world just how talented he is and what he is capable of. He won the hearts of golfers and non-golfers everywhere, maybe not in the same way Tiger Woods did back in 1997, but pretty close.
It was as if Spieth was unstoppable. Sure, there were some tough moments last year, like when he came so close to winning the British Open but ultimately lost to Zach Johnson. But for Spieth, it was pretty much all glory all the time.
Spieth's collapse at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon will make him even stronger because champions are comeback artists. In fact, failure is usually a prerequisite of a lifetime of great success. When Donald Trump was billions of dollars in debt in the 1990s, did you really think he was washed up for good? After Lance Armstrong survived cancer, did anyone really think he wouldn't race again? How about Christopher Reeve? Did anyone really bet against him making an international impact to help people with spinal cord injuries, once he made the decision to do it?
Amateurs quickly become demoralized by setbacks and defeat, and quietly slink back to their comfort zones. Professional performers know that large-scale success is based on a series of comebacks. They believe that setbacks are set-ups for comebacks. The average person grossly underestimates the level of mental toughness that champions possess.
Champions fail again and again; yet continue coming back for more. Until now, Spieth, although experienced in what it meant to be victorious on the PGA Tour, really didn't understand the agony of defeat. Yes, he had lost tournaments before, but he never experienced the heartbreak and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with golf at the highest level.
When the going gets tough and the pain kicks in, most people back off from a goal or task. This is when world-class performers begin to fight. When they begin to feel physical or psychological pain, they go inside themselves and draw on their vast reserves of emotional power.
The next few days are going to be long and painful for Spieth. But in the end, the next three decades are going to be even better for him because of what happened at The Masters. With the physical game he has combined with the level of mental toughness he has and the lesson learned yesterday, if you thought Jordan Spieth was unstoppable before, just wait until you see how he responds. For many, what happened yesterday would be enough for them to throw in the towel and never to be heard from again. That's not going to happen here. Once Spieth's pain subsides and he gets back on the course, I genuinely believe he's going to be even better than before.
Jordan Spieth is the total package. On the physical plane, he has perseverance. On the mental plane, he has toughness. On the spiritual plane, he has artistry. In the future, I expect we'll see many more runs at the green jacket from him, and his name will go down with the greats like Nicklaus, Palmer and Woods. A big part of his great future in golf will be a direct result of the gut-wrenching yet necessary lesson of the 2016 Masters.