By: Kayla Mortellaro
Jordan Spieth didn’t relinquish control of the lead all week at Augusta National and walked off the 18th hole as the 2015 Masters champion.
At 21-years- 8-months- and 17 days, Spieth broke records all week and Sunday afternoon was no different. Once the final putt dropped, Spieth became the second youngest Masters champion, behind Tiger Woods.
Spieth is now in great company with some of the legends of the game. At day’s end, for Spieth’s first career major, he finished the 72-holes at -18, also tying a score first set by a 21-year-old Woods in 1997, that resulted in his first major victory.
In the rich history of the Masters, there has only been five wire-to-wire champions, a feat that was last accomplished by Raymond Floyd in 1976. Spieth now joins that list.
Late Sunday afternoon, after a birdie on hole 15, Spieth reached -19. That is a mark that no man has ever achieved while walking around the grounds of Augusta. Ultimately, Spieth bogeyed the last hole to finish the day at two under par (70) and -18 total for the week (64-66-70-70 = 270)
The Dallas native blazed past the field all week and his lead was never smaller than three strokes on Sunday’s crucial round. Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose tried their best to catch the lead but their efforts fell short finishing tied for second at -14.
Three-time Masters Champion, Mickelson provided a jolt in the crowd after he holed out a bunker shot on 15 for eagle that resonated across the course. The roar caused Spieth to back off a seven foot par putt on hole 14 but the pressure and moment wasn’t too much. Mickelson (70-68-67-69 = 274) has now finished second or in a tie for second 10 times in his career and at least once at all four major championship events.
“I played a solid round but I needed an exceptional round,” Mickelson said.” I ended up having three bogies that kind of stalled my round.”
Mickelson had four birdies, one eagle and three bogies en route to his Sunday 69.
“Jordan didn’t help any of us trying to catch him, he played an extremely solid round,” Mickelson added. “The fact is, I would have taken -14 at the start of the week. I would have been happy with that. I played really well to shoot -14 and I just simply got out-played by a young player who played some incredible golf.”
Rose (67-70-67-70 = 274), got off to a lightening quick start with birdies on hole one and two. The charge however stalled, but the pressure never outwardly phased Spieth.
World number one Rory McIlroy, fought hard to make the cut on Friday afternoon and then made the most of his weekend. McIlroy ascended to fourth after a final round six under, (71-71-68-66 = 276). The Northern Irishman has long been anointed as the game’s next best golfer, the man to take the reins from Woods. While the 25-year-old currently has the number one ranking, Spieth is nipping at his heels for that title.
The Masters win propelled Spieth to number two in the world. Not only has the young star captured his first major championship, he has captured the respect of his peers.
“It’s obviously very, very impressive,” McIlroy said of Spieth’s commanding victory around Augusta. “You know, happy for him, he’s been playing great, you know, for a 21-year-old, he’s way more mature than I was at 21 and a hell of a golfer and a great person as well. So, I’m really happy for him.”
The man who ignited golf to the heights it is at stopped to talk with the Golf Channel about Spieth. “Well, I think it’s fantastic. He’s doing all the things he needs to do. I think Australia served him a lot to go down there a win by a lot,” Woods said. “So, when he gets it going, he’s one of those guys that, like Rory, can go off and make bunches of birdies in a row.”
Woods played just two groups in front of Spieth on Sunday’s final round but was never able to be a factor. In the end, the 2015 Masters proved to be a good place for Woods, (73-69-68-73 = 283) in that his game was tested on one of golf’s toughest stages and he finished the week strong in a tie for 17th. At 39, this tournament proved Woods’ game is close to form but has some issues that still need to be addressed.
There is no doubt Woods will go back to the drawing board and work hard to chase down the younger generation. But when Woods returns to Augusta National in 2016, he will be doing so at the age of 40 and it will mark a shocking statistic that Woods never won a Masters in his 30’s. His last green jacket came in 2005 at the age of 29.
As for now, the spotlight and honor belongs to Spieth who is the 2015 Masters Champion.
“The place [Augusta National] that everybody thinks about all year long, this tournament is unlike any other and it’s a dream come to true to be at the podium right now.” Spieth said at the green jacket ceremony.
“To put on this jacket is incredible, it just feels great,” Spieth said. “It was a test, there is a reason I have a hairline like this. It’s stressful what we do on a daily basis. To be able to come to the world’s greatest and come out on top puts a lot of confidence in me.”
“Going forward, now the goal has changed, this was the ultimate goal in my golf life from when I was young. To be able to accomplish it at 21, I didn’t really expect that, so it’s time to get excited to try to join Bubba as a two-time champion,” Spieth added.
In the end, Masters Week belonged to Spieth who joined a list of 39 other men who turned a dream into a reality.