After three rounds at Augusta National, many 2014 Masters onlookers are asking the same question: Who is Jordan Spieth?
The 20-year-old Masters rookie has been playing like a seasoned veteran, navigating the treacherous twists and turns of this historic golf course with ease.
Through three rounds, Spieth was one of the few golfers to put up sub-par rounds during each day at Augusta, recording a 71, 70 and 70, respectively.
Spieth showed a high level of poise and mental toughness so far at the Masters despite his young age. He's avoided tournament-altering blemishes, with no double bogeys or higher on his scorecard through three rounds.
His smooth swing, power and touch around the green have all been on display. These attributes were highlighted during Round 2 when he eagled the par-five 15th.
Spieth crushed his drive down the center of the fairway, providing an excellent opportunity to have a go at the green in two. A perfectly struck fairway wood landed just on the front of the green and ran just several feet past the pin. Maintaining nerves of steel, he rolled an ultra-slick downhill putt right to the center of the cup.
One fist pump later, Spieth became one of the tournament's must-see players.
Spieth told reporters that his mentor, Ben Crenshaw, played a huge part in his stellar play and solid mental game heading into the Masters, according to Larry Fine or Reuters.com:
Mr. Crenshaw says it best, the Masters brings out emotion in guys that aren't emotional. I'm already emotional and I got to keep it on the down low. My caddie (Michael Greller) has been doing a great job of keeping me calm, level headed, and focused on bogey as the worst score.
He maintained his composure beautifully on Saturday, bouncing back nicely from his two bogeys on the day with four birdies.
Don't look now, but Spieth is tied for the lead at five under par heading into the tournament's final round. He'll find himself in Sunday's final pairing with Bubba Watson.
This is his chance to put himself in elite company so early in his career.
So, how did he get here?
After playing in just six tournaments in 2012—missing two cuts and failing to record a top-10 finish—Spieth was ranked 809th in the world.
He really found his game in 2013.
Spieth entered 27 events, missed just five cuts, recorded seven top-10 finishes, three second-place finishes and one victory—the 2013 John Deere Classic—last season. He quickly saw his world golf ranking jump to No. 22.
He continued his hot streak into 2014. Before the Masters, he played in 10 tournaments, missing two cuts, recording three top-10 finishes and earning second place at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
This surge boosted his ranking to 13th entering the year's first major.
Spieth is mature beyond his years. That fact was very apparent when he spoke to Fine and other reporters about his strategy entering Saturday's round paired with defending champion Adam Scott:
Ultimately, if you're playing extremely well and you get the right breaks, then it doesn't matter if it's your first time or your 50th, I think that you can win out here. I'm playing with the defending champ tomorrow and I'll get to see where he's playing a lot of his shots and how the ball's reacting from those. Hopefully, I can draw on that a little bit.
Actually, he topped his own expectations on Saturday. Scott struggled through the day, finishing with a 76. That kind of scoring can be contagious—especially in a major. Spieth remained focused and outdueled the reigning champion to put himself in great position to take home the coveted green jacket.
All eyes will be on Spieth during the tournament's final round, as he looks to become the youngest Masters champion ever.
His moxie has been tested numerous times throughout the Masters, and he has continued to prevail. If he can keep up his efficiency through 18 more holes, we could witness history in the making on Sunday.
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