- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Sure, the newly crowned Masters champion is back in contention at the RBC Heritage this weekend, with a viable chance of becoming just the second player ever to immediately follow his green jacket prize with a brilliantly brazen tartan edition.
Not everything is going Jordan Spieth's way, though, here in this casual island paradise with the mellow vibe. He broke a rod while fishing. He's merely broken even in card games against his housemates. He's helped break a record, admits one of them, for the amount of food consumed so far.
And then there's this: The guy who won the Masters couldn't even score the master bedroom.
"I was the first one there," Justin Thomas explained with a smile. "There's no reason that he should get it, so I got in there. No problem at all."
Thomas and Spieth became fast friends when they paired in a junior tournament during their early-teens. It's a friendship based on a foundation of two-way trash-talking, but it isn't without some historical substance, as well. That's because it was Thomas who first introduced Spieth to Michael Greller, who caddied for the former in amateur golf and has looped all but one professional tournament for the latter.
A month ago - before the Masters win and the dawning of Spiethmania - Greller booked a house here on Hilton Head Island about a half-mile from Harbour Town Golf Links. There would be five people cramped into the beachy digs: Greller; his wife, Ellie; Spieth; Thomas; and Thomas' caddie, Jason Shortall.
Even after claiming the Masters title last week, Spieth never veered from his commitment to this tournament - a decision aided by the knowledge that it would be a laid-back week with buddies, even while competing in the event.
"It just feels normal," Spieth said. "It's nice and relaxed here. This is one of the most relaxing events of the year. We've just been laying low and smack-talking. That's how it is with us."
Despite the fact that they're contending for the same title - Spieth will enter the final round five strokes behind leader Troy Merritt; Thomas is one shot further back - they've enjoyed plenty of downtime away from the course.
"We've been playing some cards, there's a pool table, ping-pong table, hot tub, fishing," listed Thomas. "More than anything, we've just been relaxing and watching TV. When we're done, we just don't want to do anything but sit there."
That doesn't mean there haven't been some Masters champion-type moments this week.
Spieth has twice dined out, but in this golf haven, the 21-year-old whose image has been plastered across television screens for the past week has trouble maintaining a low profile.
Even the rental house doesn't provide complete privacy.
On Friday, there was a knock on the door. When Thomas opened it, he found a woman with a Masters flag, seeking an autograph.
"She asked, 'Would you sign this?'" he recalled with a laugh. "I'm like, 'Whoa, I'm not Jordan. You don't want my autograph. I'll ruin that flag.'"
Greller has a flag story of his own. After he and Ellie turned an office into a makeshift bedroom by placing two mattresses on the floor and procuring a blanket featuring two kittens, he needed room for his new prized possession. And so each night he's been sleeping with his wife on one side of him and the flagstick from the 18th hole at Augusta National resting just off the mattress to the other side.
Not that the flagstick - with flag still attached - hasn't had its share of fun this week. Don't tell the Augusta members, but it may have found itself in the hot tub at one point.
All of which somehow perfectly suits the situation. Less than a week ago, Spieth and Greller were competing in the game's most intense, pressure-packed tournament with everything on the line. Now they're basking in the afterglow while again trying to win another title.
If it sounds less stressful, that's because it is.
"This is the first time I've been in contention where I haven't felt nerves one time," Spieth admitted. "So, certainly enjoying that. I like that."
Maybe that will lead to another victory come Sunday. After all, for a Masters champion who broke a fishing rod, has broken even in card games and couldn't even score the master bedroom, it's about time things started going Spieth's way.
After his stunning Masters win and the whirlwind that followed, Jordan Spieth is basking in his laid-back week on Hilton Head Island.