By Tony Jimenez
TROON, Scotland (Reuters) - Twice major winner Jordan Spieth suggested the critics were being "unfair" to him and urged everyone to be less negative about his performances after returning a one-over 72 in the British Open third round on Saturday.
The young American enjoyed a remarkable season last year, landing the U.S. Masters and U.S. Open crowns as he surged to the top of the world rankings.
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The golfing gods have not been so kind to Spieth this year, though he did win the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January and the Colonial Invitational in his native Texas in May.
The 22-year-old suffered a late meltdown at the Masters in April, squandering a five-shot lead over the closing nine holes.
"It's been tough given I think it's been a solid year and I think had last year not happened I'd be having a lot of positive questions," Spieth told reporters after finishing with a five-over tally of 218 in difficult blustery winds at Royal Troon.
"Instead, most of the questions I get are comparing (my performances) to last year and, therefore, are negative because it's not to the same standard.
"That's almost tough to then convince myself I'm having a good year when, even if you guys think it is (good), the questions I get make me feel like it's not," said Spieth.
"I think that's a bit unfair to me but don't feel sorry for me. I'll still be okay. But I would appreciate if people would look at the positives... it seems a bit unfair at 22 to be expecting something like that all the time."
Spieth wielded his putter last year like a magician waves his wand but this season his form on the greens has dipped and that has been the story at Troon.
"I've been hitting the ball great, I'm just really struggling on the greens this week," he said.
"I'm struggling reading them and then, because of that, I have a tough time hitting a nice, solid putt on a line and being confident about it.
"I missed four putts maybe inside of five feet today, that's not normal, a couple from two feet... that's normally something that doesn't happen."
Spieth made a fast start on Saturday with four birdies in the first seven holes but the gusty 20mph winds began to affect him and he dropped five strokes in seven holes to the 15th.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)