Golf-Imagination the key to Spieth's putting: Crenshaw

By Mark Lamport-Stokes AUGUSTA, Georgia, April 13 (Reuters) - Jordan Spieth's sublime putting on some of the most treacherous greens in golf, which set up his Masters victory on Sunday, was underpinned by his imaginative touch, says putting maestro Ben Crenshaw. While Crenshaw is acknowledged as one of the best putters of all time, he was mightily impressed by the manner in which his fellow Texan was able to adapt to the deceptive pace and tricky lines at Augusta National aged just 21. Spieth was making only his second Masters start, having tied for second on his debut last year, and he made the most of getting a few tips from Crenshaw and four-times winner Tiger Woods during a practice round at Augusta on Wednesday. "He's a very imaginative putter," Crenshaw, himself a twice Masters champion, told Reuters about Spieth, who completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory on Sunday while tying Woods' tournament record for 72 holes. "You have to be around here. You have to really make a decision on your lines but the pace has to be right. It all has to match. In no other place do you have to be so imaginative." Spieth, a brilliant amateur who has soared up the world rankings since turning professional in 2013, is known for his deft putting but he was in a league of his own last week as he coped with the severely contoured greens at Augusta National. For the first three days, the greens ran slower than most of the players expected after being softened by rain earlier in the week but for the final round they were back to their usual challenge of fast and firm. Time and again, though, Spieth sank clutch par putts while his overall putting statistics for the week are remarkable. The immensely likeable American, who climbed to a career-high second in the rankings on Monday, made 23 putts from between eight and 10 feet during the week, and seven from 15 feet or more. REMARKABLE POISE For the soft-spoken Crenshaw, this came as no surprise after watching the remarkably poised Spieth putt superbly when they first played together in a practice round at Austin in their home state. "That first time that I ever played with him in Austin, it was just like he had been there for 10 years," said the 63-year-old Texan, who competed in his 44th and final Masters last week. "He could just see the lines on the greens right there. He possesses an artful way of playing. We've seen the important putts that he has made at this Masters but I amazed at his maturity. "He does have that competitive fire which I think is wonderful and it will carry him a long way but he seems to bottle it pretty quickly and then goes on to the next hole. That's tough to do when you're 21." Crenshaw was especially impressed by Spieth's ice-cool putting display in the final round, despite the intense pressure of a major coming down the stretch. "If that putter doesn't sing, it will gnaw at your emotions and Jordan is one of the most nerveless putters I have seen," said Crenshaw. "You don't just get over a putt and hit it. You've got to imagine what you were doing. The crucial putts that he made were unbelievable." Four shots ahead of the field going into the final round, Spieth was fired up by a motivational text message from Crenshaw before he teed off Sunday. "He said, 'Stay patient, this is going to be yours, you've got this thing and you're playing great. Just keep your head down and stay focused," Spieth told reporters after slipping into the cherished green jacket. For Crenshaw, who won his first Masters title in 1984 before producing an emotional second victory at Augusta National 11 years later, the golfing future could not look brighter for Spieth. "He's obviously in a real hot streak, very confident, very bold. It is like he knows exactly where he is going." (Editing by Frank Pingue)