Jordan Spieth believes this year’s Masters field is among the strongest in recent memory as he prepares to defend his title at Augusta National.
American Spieth sealed his first green jacket with a dominant four-shot victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose 12 months ago.
However, the 22-year-old was knocked off the world number one spot by Jason Day, who boasts a second and third-placed finish at the Masters, following the Australian’s win at the WGC-Dell Match Play last weekend.
Spieth, though, says there are plenty of other contenders, with former champions Bubba Watson and Adam Scott finding form in recent weeks, while Rory McIlroy remains desperate to complete a career Grand Slam.
“I think this year’s Masters might be the hardest one to win in quite a while as far as the depth of the field and the quality of golf being played by people who play Augusta National very well,” Spieth said ahead of his defence of the Houston Open.
“Bubba has played extremely well, as a two-time winner. Louis Oosthuizen played well last week. Rory has played Augusta National very well and he’s playing strong golf this year.
“He wants it very, very badly. We all know that. Everybody wants it badly. Zach Johnson was playing great golf last week. He ran into an off day after he dominated his first few matches.
“There’s a bunch of guys who love the tournament and the course next week that are playing great golf. You kind of always see a little bit of that, but I think it’s widespread this year.”
The Texan is sure to have a busy week in Georgia with the Champions’ Dinner to organise, but Spieth – who also won The Open in 2015 – is unfazed by the attention he is sure to attract.
“I don’t really care about being in the spotlight or not. We go and do our thing that week,” he added.
“Hopefully we’re the ones that are in contention and we’re the most recent winners of it. We’ve got it fresh in our mind. Hopefully it’s an advantage.
“I’m extremely excited about it. The Masters is within 10 days away. Just saying that makes you just want to go out and do push ups or something, just like it makes you really, really excited.”