AUGUSTA - Jordan Spieth was cracking jokes on Tuesday on the same par-3 12th hole at Augusta National where a quadruple bogey doomed his bid for back-to-back Masters titles a year ago.
The 2015 Masters champion was leading in last year's final round when he plunked two shots into Rae's Creek on his way to a Masters disaster that helped England's Danny Willett take the green jacket.
But in his practice round for Thursday's opening round at the 81st Masters, he delighted spectators in the heart of "Amen Corner" after a Tuesday tap-in.
"I stepped up today, first day back with the crowds, and I hit it to (one foot), which is nice," Spieth said.
"I turned to the crowd and said, 'I really could have used that one about 12 months ago,' to some significant laughter."
It was no laughing matter then, but time has helped heal the wounds.
"You go through ups and downs in life and in golf," Spieth said. "You want to be therapeutic on both ends and I believe that certainly you don't want to hold stuff in. I would be crazy. It's strictly the nature of what I think is appropriate in moving on and lifting up when you're on a low."
Spieth, a 2014 and 2016 Masters runner-up around his 2015 win, said he was proud of the way he fought back after the double splashdown last year.
"I felt like I fought hard," he said. "I felt like I made the right decisions and I felt like I made a lot of good swings and made a couple bad swings like any other round of golf. I was very proud of the way we went through it."
Spieth, ranked sixth, is also confident he can be a contender again.
"I hope to have the opportunities that I had the last three years and that's what I'm going for," he said. "I've fought very hard at the end and that's something that we always do."
Spieth will give the hole due respect when he faces it in competition Thursday for the first time since last year's fateful stumble.
"It's just tough because there's not much depth to the green and there's swirling winds. You can't miss short but then if you miss long, four or five comes into play," Spieth said.
"What's tough is that you just don't have much depth to land it. If you look at my history there, I made quite a few birdies. Hit the green the majority of the time."
Swirling winds always make the hole a tricky one, but with gusts expected to be up Thursday, he will be paying special attention.
"Stay focused on the hole as it is," Spieth said. "These conditions could make it easier to stay focused on the hole, having to judge certain winds and whatnot. Look forward to getting out there, taking it right over the bunker."
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion who needs only the Masters to complete a career Grand Slam, expects Spieth will have no problem come Thursday at the 12th.
"It's a nice storyline," he said. "But I can assure you Jordan will be fine. I'm sure what happened last year won't enter his mind."
And Spieth is looking to be in the title hunt once again.
"Game feels good," Spieth said. "We'll step out and try and get a chance to win on Sunday on the back nine again. That's all we're asking for. Just that small little piece."