Jordan's Jewel: Spieth's 2015 Masters Win an Unforgettable, Star-Making Display

Art SpanderFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2015

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

AUGUSTA, Ga. — At an age almost too young and with talent almost too incredible, Jordan Spieth mastered the Masters as had only one other person in history—Tiger Woods.

Kicking any thought of competition deep into the Georgia pines, Spieth crushed not only the Augusta National Golf Club but the plans of some of golf’s current greats.

He was in front virtually from the second hole of Thursday’s first round to the final putt on Sunday. He joined Craig Wood (1941), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972) and Raymond Floyd (1976) as the only wire-to-wire winners in 79 years of Masters tournaments.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 12:  Jordan Spieth of the United States reacts to a par-saving putt on the 16th green during the final round of the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redingto
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

A golfer of exceptional brilliance and cool swept away all worries about a kid who lost the lead in the final round a year ago and about the pressure of the moment from challengers including Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and (nominally) Rory McIlroy and Woods—all major winners.

“It’s awfully impressive,” said McIlroy, who has won the other three majors and finished fourth in this one. “It’s nice to get your major tally up and running at quite an early stage of your career.”

This is the first for Spieth. There will be more.

A bogey on the final hole left Spieth only tied with Woods at 270 for the lowest 72-hole Masters total ever, an 18-under compiled from scores of 64-66-70-70. Woods earned that score during his stunning victory back in 1997 when he was the youngest winner ever—21 years and three months. Spieth, five months older, became the second-youngest on Sunday.

Lowest Final Scores in Masters History
NameYearScoreUnder Par
Jordan Spieth2015270-18
Tiger Woods1997270-18
Raymond Floyd1976271-17
Jack Nicklaus1965271-17
Phil Mickelson2010272-16
Tiger Woods2001272-16

And with the aging of Woods, now 39, Spieth becomes The Great American Hope in golf.

“Obviously, it’s tough to go out and win,” said Jason Day, the Australian, who was third in the 2013 Masters. “And even though you have a big lead at the final day, it’s tough to close on a Sunday at Augusta. So it shows a lot of grit and determination that he has right now to really kind of push that.”

Spieth is a pusher, all right, someone not content with merely being in front but determined to get miles ahead—like all great athletes. His six birdies Sunday gave him a total of 28 for the four rounds, easily bettering the record of 25 birdies Mickelson set in 2001. Spieth also set marks for the lowest scores at 36 and 54 holes.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Mickelson and Rose finished tied for second at 14 under par, an excellent total. But Spieth buried both of them. “He’s obviously a tremendous player,” Mickelson said of Spieth. “He’s a quality individual. He’s not hard to like. It’s hard not to pull for the guy.”

The guy has been working toward greatness since elementary school. He and younger brother Steve, a basketball player at Brown, would compete against each other in yards and streets around their Dallas home. They practiced golf—shots over the roof, into the trash can—and hoops, with shots into the basket.

Spieth won the U.S. Junior Amateur twice, or only one time fewer than Woods. While enrolled at the University of Texas, he was the low amateur in the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club and then in December 2012, he turned pro. Now he may turn the sport on its head.

“It’s great to see,” said McIlroy, who was the pre-tournament favorite, per OddsShark. “Great for the game. And I’m sure he’ll win many more.”

Nearly 20 years ago, Woods was where Spieth is now, having broken through and announced himself in a loud way. Nicklaus took over from Palmer. Tom Watson took over from Nicklaus. Greg Norman took over from Watson. And Woods took over from everyone.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 12:  Jordan Spieth of the United States walks off the 18th green after his four-stroke victory at the 2015 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

“It’s just generations,” said Woods, who shot a mediocre 73 and finished five under par, 13 shots behind Spieth. And golf’s next generation offers a young man who calls his elders—Watson, Ben Crenshaw—“Mister.” But he has no deference when he has a club in his grip. He’ll beat the daylights out of anyone, no matter what age.

“It’s the most incredible week of my life,” Spieth said. “This is as great as it gets in our sport.”

For this Masters week, Spieth was as great as it gets. He made birdies on 13 of the 16 par fives he played, with two pars and one bogey. That’s how Woods, Nicklaus, Palmer and Mickelson all built their victories.

"This is a dream come true for me,” said Spieth, who not only gets the green jacket as a winner but a lifetime invitation to the tournament.

“I didn’t break 70 last year [in any round], even having a chance to win, where I got edged by Bubba [Watson]," he said. "But to shoot some low rounds and to see some putts go in here and to hear the roars, it was remarkable.”

That's also a perfect word to describe the Masters performance of the new champion, Jordan Spieth.

Art Spander is a winner of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism from the PGA of America. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.


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