Hilton Head , United States – Jordan Spieth will try to shake off the disappointment of his fade at the Masters when he tees it up at the US PGA Tour's Heritage.
The 20-year-old Texan had a two-stroke lead with 11 holes remaining at Augusta National on Sunday, but finished with a level-par 72 that left him tied for second with Jonas Blixt behind Bubba Watson in the year's first major.
“It definitely left me stinging,” Spieth said. “And it definitely left me hungry and ready to play golf again.”
Spieth said he never considered withdrawing from this week's tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links, where he finished ninth last year as a newcomer to the course, despite the emotional drain of his near-miss at Augusta.
He'll be paired over the first two rounds with Tom Watson and Davis Love.
Love is a five-time winner of the Heritage while Watson has won the tournament's plaid jacket twice.
Watson is also the captain of this year's US Ryder Cup team, and part of his mission this week is to get a look at his potential team members.
“I'll be really bearing down and watching,” Watson said. “I'll be around them personally from now until the Ryder Cup.”
Six-time major champion Nick Faldo is also in the field, marking the 30th anniversary of his Heritage win in 1984 Ä his first US tour title.
Faldo, who notched his last victory in 1997 and now serves as a television commentator, has modest expectations for the week.
“You've just got to go out and just go and play and see what happens,” he said. “If it's a bad day, it's a bad day. Maybe I can shoot more than a couple of good holes.”
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell is the defending champion. McDowell arrived at Harbour Town having missed the cut at the Masters last year, and this year is no different.
“Last year's win was great, but it means nothing now,” the former US Open champion said. “Now we have to treat it like another event, prepare how we always do, execute our game plan and hope things go well.”
McDowell said he was looking forward to “managing the expectations of a defending champion”.
“I'm aware of the pitfalls, and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I'm excited to be coming back.”
McDowell is paired with 2011 Heritage champion Brandt Snedeker and Masters first-round leader Bill Haas.
In other marquee groups, South African Ernie Els will play alongside Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan, Kuchar coming off a share of fifth place at the Masters.
Luke Donald, who has two runner-up and two third-place finishes here, will play alongside Americans Zach Johnson and Harris English. – Sapa-AFP