Apr
12
2015
Spieth repels all charges, wins Masters
By Stephanie Wei under The Masters

In his Masters debut, Jordan Spieth entered the final round tied for the lead with Bubba Watson, but the then-20-year-old Texan wasn’t able to close out and let his first green jacket slip through his fingers. Just a year later, Spieth, who held a four-shot lead heading into Sunday, got his redemption and closed the deal at Augusta National, completing a wire-to-wire victory — the first since Raymond Floyd in 1976 — to capture his first green jacket as well as his first major championship. And, it was one for the ages as Spieth tied, set and broke various records.

After missing a slippery five-footer to get up-and-down to save par on the par-4 18th, Spieth tapped-in for bogey to post a two-under 70, good enough for a four-shot margin of victory over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. He posted an 18-under, 270, total for the championship, tying the lowest scoring record set by none other than Tiger Woods when he won the 1997 Masters. (Though Spieth didn’t break Woods’ record, he became the first player to reach 19-under in the history of the tournament.)

“It’s the most incredible week of my life,” said Spieth. “This is as great as it gets in our sport. This is a dream come true for me and to be able to ‑‑ I didn’t break 70 last year, even having a chance to win, where I got edged out by Bubba here. But to shoot some low rounds and so see some putts go in out here and to hear the roars, it was remarkable.”

Spieth, who entered the week going 1-2-T2 in his last three starts, was hungry to win again after a couple of close calls in the past two weeks, not to mention wanting to make up for losing the Masters last year.

“I think it was not only last year; it was last week, the combination of the two,” said Spieth. “I was already hungry from last year having already had an opportunity and watched it slip away and watched Bubba win and everything that came with Bubba being the Masters Champion, and the announcements of it, going on the shows and whatever, I knew I had a chance to win that tournament.

“So you get reminded of it all the time because when you’re Masters Champion, it’s a different legacy. And so that definitely left me hungry.

“And then also, having a chance to win the last couple weeks and not quite pulling it off; I knew I was playing well, just needed to be rested enough to come in this week. So the combination of the two allowed me to keep my head down, not worry about anybody else in the field except myself and to play a golf course that is my favorite course in the world in Augusta National.”

Over the course of the past year, Spieth learned how to stay patient, which he emphasized each day in his press conferences, and it all reached a culmination on Sunday, but an important week for him was when he won the Australian Open last December.

“What the Australian Open did is in a period where I had some struggles towards the top of the leaderboard on Sundays, it was a level of patience and a level of ‑‑ it was trial and error for a couple of times and I had not found the solution,” said Spieth. “We had not found the solution as a team and we found the solution in Australia against a world‑class field including the World No. 1 and 2 at the time. Closing out that tournament and seeing what that meant in the history of that tournament and understanding who won there, it meant a lot.”

The following week Spieth captured a wire-to-wire victory at Tiger Woods’ 18-man tournament, the Hero World Challenge, which also contributed to his learning curve.

“I was able to see putts go in,” he said. “I knew that I could make them under pressure and I knew the strategy mentally, most importantly, to get the job done.

“I’ve just taken that since into this year, wrapping around the off‑season. And once we got into form after a couple weeks of getting the rust off, it’s been exactly where it was.”

Spieth felt in control for most of the day — which should come as no surprise if you watched any of the coverage. Justin Rose, who was paired with Spieth, managed to get to within three shots of the lead on the front nine, but Spieth looked like he had full control on the back nine, especially after he birdied no. 10 (which he said was a “key hole” for him this week because he played the challenging par-4 at three-under).

Mickelson, who couldn’t get anything going on the front nine, also tried to make a late charge, but it was too little, too late.

“I played a solid round, but I needed to play an exceptional round and I ended up having three bogeys that kind of stalled my round as I was starting to make a birdie here or there,” said Phil, who shot a final-round, three-under 69.

“I needed to shoot something in the mid to low 60s to have a chance and just didn’t do it.  I just didn’t play the exceptional round that I needed, and Jordan didn’t help any of us trying to catch him.  He played an extremely solid round.

“But the fact is, I would have taken 14‑under at the start of the week.  I would have been happy with that.  I’ve played really well to shoot 14‑under and I just simply got outplayed by a young player who just played some incredible golf.”

A crucial moment for Spieth happened on the par-3 no. 16 when he hit a 7-iron long and left — similar to the spot where Tiger Woods chipped in from en route to his magical win in 2005. Meanwhile, Rose was in a good position with a makable look at birdie.

“Before that, I still felt pretty comfortable,” said Spieth. “I still felt like I could walk up 18 stress‑free. But on 16, when Justin had that birdie putt, then I had that slider for par, that’s when I really felt like it could get out of my hands if I’m not careful here.

“And he had a lot of putts that just over‑crossed or stopped just short. If he had made ‑‑ if a couple of those had dropped for him on the back nine, it would have put even more pressure.

“But stepped over that putt just trying to put good speed, feed it out there and visualize a line. That was certainly, I would call that the biggest putt I’ve ever hit in my life.”

Added Spieth: “I got over that shot and I’m sitting there going, this is I think Tiger in 2005. This is the shot. Let’s chip this thing in. I think that’s arguably the greatest shot that’s ever been hit in major championship golf given the time and what it meant for him.

“I was sitting there looking at a little easier chip, but the same kind of pitch it up; missed the chip and had a 5‑, 6‑footer that I had to play about six inches outside the hole on, or maybe even a foot.

“At that point, I was with my putter. Didn’t care what it looked like. Didn’t care my posture. Didn’t care the mechanics. It was all feel‑based. I was seeing the line. I was seeing the arc of the putt.

“I stayed with my head down on that putt and just said, you know, this is a huge moment. Let’s knock this thing in. After Justin missed his, and it was almost like a tease for him; could have been a two‑shot swing, instead, all‑square.”

Spieth, who is only 21 but going on 50, understands the weight of his major victory and the responsibility that comes with it.

“This isn’t an honor that’s carried lightly,” said Spieth, who moves to no. 2 in the world (watch out, Rory McIlroy!). “The members of Augusta National and everyone who partakes in the Masters and is a part of the Masters, demands the most, the highest quality on and off the course from their champions. I feel ready to carry that baton.”

Here’s a look at Spieth’s historic win, by the numbers:

*Jordan Spieth led by four shots over Justin Rose entering the final round before shooting a 2-under 70 to win by four shots over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose to claim the fifth wire-to-wire victory at the Masters. Spieth becomes the fourth player since 1900 to win three times with at least one major before the age of 22.

*Spieth joins Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, and Tom Creavy as players to win three times with at least one major on the PGA TOUR before turning age 22 since 1900. Note: Young Tom Morris won the Open Championship four times from 1868-1872 each under the age of 22).

*Spieth becomes the third different player since 1940 to win three times on the PGA TOUR before reaching their 22nd birthday. Below is the list of players to accomplish the feat:

Tiger Woods 1996 Las Vegas Invitational 20 years, 9 months, 6 days

Tiger Woods 1996 Walt Disney World Classic 20 years, 9 months, 20 days

Tiger Woods 1997 Mercedes Championship 21 years, 13 days

Tiger Woods 1997 Masters Tournament 21 years, 3 months, 14 days

Tiger Woods 1997 GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic 21 years, 4 months, 18 days

Tiger Woods 1997 Motorola Western Open 21 years, 6 months, 6 days

Sergio Garcia 2001 MasterCard Colonial 21 years, 4 months

Sergio Garcia 2001 Buick Classic 21 years, 5 months, 16 days

Sergio Garcia 2002 Mercedes Championships 21 years, 11 months, 28 days

Jordan Spieth 2013 John Deere Classic 19 years, 11 months, 18 days

Jordan Spieth 2015 Valspar Championship 21 years, 7 months, 19 days

Jordan Spieth 2015 Masters 21 years, 8 months, 16 days

*Jordan Spieth becomes the second youngest winner of the Masters:

Tiger Woods 1997 21 years, 3 months, 14 days

Jordan Spieth 2015 21 years, 8 months, 16 days

Seve Ballesteros 1980 23 years, 4 days

*Spieth becomes the first player to reach 19-under at any point during any round at the Masters:

Players to reach 16 under par:

Jordan Spieth (2015); Phil Mickelson (2010); Tiger Woods (2001); Tiger Woods (1997); Raymond Floyd (1976); Jack Nicklaus (1965)

Players to reach 17 under par:

Jordan Spieth (2015); Tiger Woods (1997); Raymond Floyd (1976); Jack Nicklaus (1965)

Players to reach 18 under par:

Jordan Spieth (2015); Tiger Woods (1997)

Players to reach 19 under par:

Jordan Spieth (2015)

*Spieth is the first player to begin his Masters career with eight straight par or better rounds.

*Best 72 hole score at the Masters:

270, Jordan Spieth (2015)

270, Tiger Woods (1997)

271, Jack Nicklaus (1965)

271, Raymond Floyd (1976)

*Spieth set the best 54-hole score at the Masters with a 200. The previous record was 201 – Raymond Floyd (1976); Tiger Woods (1997).

*Spieth’s 130 broke Raymond Floyd’s (1976) Masters record for low first 36 holes by one shot.

*Spieth tied the lowest opening 36-hole score in a Major Championship:

Masters: 130 – Jordan Spieth, Augusta National (2015)

U.S. Open: 130 – Martin Kaymer, Pinehurst No. 2 (2014)

Open Championship: 130 – Brandt Snedeker, Royal Lytham (2012); Nick Faldo, Muirfield (1992).

PGA Championship: 131 – Seven players; most recently Jason Dufner, Oak Hill (2013)

*Spieth matched the largest 36-hole lead at the Masters (5 shots) by Herman Keiser (1946), Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Raymond Floyd (1976). All four players went on to win.

*Youngest leaders in Masters history:

18 hole Jordan Spieth (2015) 21 years, 8 months, 13 days

36 hole Tiger Woods (1997) 21 years, 3 months, 14 days

54 hole (T1) Jordan Spieth (2014) 20 years, 8 months, 17 days

*The most birdies by a Masters champion

28, Jordan Spieth (2015)

24, Tiger Woods (2005)

*The most birdies by any player at the Masters:

28, Jordan Spieth (2015)

25, Phil Mickelson (2001)

*Spieth becomes the fifth wire-to-wire winner at the Masters: Craig Wood (1941), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Raymond Floyd (1976) and Jordan Spieth (2015).