Jordan Spieth celebrates his Masters win in which he shoots a record-tying 18-under par.
AUGUSTA – This had become a coronation on the 18th green, so Jordan Spieth’s dad, Shawn, reminded his son that he needed to acknowledge all his subjects. “Give everybody a walk-around,” Shawn advised the new Masters champion, near the scorer’s shack. Jordan, always polite, heeded his father and strolled around the green one more time.
When Spieth finished his victory lap, there were more embraces from his mother, his grandfather, his girlfriend, his high school buddies. They’d all come here hoping for exactly this sort of ending, while his autistic sister, Ellie, watched it from home. He didn’t truly understand he’d won, Spieth said, until he saw these familiar faces at No. 18.
“I’m so proud of you,” his mother, Chris, told Spieth. Everybody, it seemed, was happy for this 21-year-old kid, for the sport, which so badly required a jolt like this, a likable American who screams at his golf ball and flashes a smile whenever it behaves.
“He’s gonna fly the flag for golf for quite a while,” Justin Rose said.
Just in case Spieth required any luck on Sunday, a little push, which he didn’t, Raymond Floyd approached the Masters leader on the practice green, gave Spieth a pat on the back before the final round. Floyd had been the last one to go wire-to-wire at Augusta National, 39 years ago, and he knew as well as anyone how jangled the nerves can become.
But synapses and axons are not a problem for Spieth, that’s for certain. Not an issue at all. Spieth proved his uncommon cool again on Sunday, when he easily stared down Rose in what amounted to match play over 18 holes while holding Phil Mickelson at bay, playing up ahead. He shot a 70 on the day and beat both challengers by four strokes on the tournament. Spieth gave Augusta National a fourth straight round of relentless, unflappable putting, equaling Tiger Woods’ all-time record score of 270.
Spieth rolls to his first major championship – a four-shot win at the 2015 Masters where he ties the tournament record finishing 18-under par at Augusta.
“With two major champions behind, I couldn’t let up,” said Spieth, after pulling on his gaudy green jacket. “This is arguably the greatest day of my life, to join the Masters history and have this jacket forever is something I can’t fathom right now.”
Spieth’s game still has its share of youthful kinks. There is a stubborn tendency to knock his drives right, and he can take foolish risks around the hazards. He screams hilariously at his ball like Mark Fydrich, and when things go wrong, he’ll actually yell things like, “Dang it!”
On the biggest shots this week, though, his ball behaved. His signature moment Sunday arrived on No. 13, a demonstration of great hubris on a perilous par five. Spieth went over the water with his second shot, a 204-foot five iron, instead of laying up, when clearly he had more to lose than to gain from such recklessness. “Go hard! Get up,” he spoke at his ball. It barely cleared the pond by two steps, rolled 14 feet from the pin and assured him a certain birdie.
“Those were the two biggest shots I made in my life, coming off a three-putt,” Spieth said, of his drive and iron on 13. “I needed to do something. I needed to make a birdie. Thought I was short. But then a roar came up. That was a moment I thought, ‘This could be destiny.’”
If you were looking for another pivotal moment, you’d probably have to harken back to Saturday, when Spieth made that remarkable up-and-down from behind the bunker on 18.
There really was no crisis in the fourth round. Neither Rose nor Mickelson ever came closer than three strokes, and that was just for a few minutes on the front nine.
Jordan Spieth poses with the green jacket after winning the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia.
Spieth sometimes had to scramble out from under the trees, yet his short game and putter were too hot for this soft course to dissuade.
He simply wouldn’t falter. “Jordan didn’t open the door, and I didn’t expect him to,” Rose said. On No. 12, where his nine-iron shot had rolled back into the water in 2014, where his collapse really began last year, Spieth played it smarter this time in his second Masters, high and left of the pin. He bogeyed that hole, but buried the birdie on No. 13. After that, it was just a matter of strolling up the fairways and acknowledging the standing ovations.
There were many of those, because the fans here fully understood they were watching both the present and future of American golf. Only Tiger was a younger Masters champ, and that was only by five months. The other golfers are already treating the kid with the respect of royalty. Woods warmed up on the practice area next to Spieth, chatting amiably. Mickelson, too, gave Spieth his props.
“He’s just a tremendous shot maker, great putter, great short game,” Mickelson said. “He has no weaknesses. He doesn’t overpower the golf course, but he plays the course strategically well. He plays all the shots properly.”
Spieth talked here about watching videos of the Masters; of skipping school as a kid, just to stay home and watch Tiger attack the first two rounds. He says he still has goals, more jackets. He can’t wait until 2015.
“I’m excited already to come back,” he said. “I know that’s going to carry a heavy weight with it.”
It all comes around now. The others will chase him at Augusta, the way they once chased Tiger.
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