The final round of the 2015 Masters might have offered golf fans a glimpse into the future.
Jordan Spieth finished off what was a bravura performance at the Augusta National Golf Club. His 18-under final score tied a course record, putting him in the same company with Tiger Woods, per the Masters' Twitter account:
Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose tied for second at four shots back:
After his win, Spieth joked that owning a four-shot lead after 54 holes did nothing to ease his nerves, per Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman:
Sunday's final round had the aura of something special. This wasn't just a golfer getting hot over four days and playing the best golf of his life; this was one of the PGA's top young stars earning his place at the table. There's no age qualifier necessary with Spieth anymore. He's simply one of the best on the Tour at the moment.
ESPN.com's Jason Sobel believes that today will have an impact that reaches decades:
Some might argue that Sobel is getting a bit ahead of himself, but that's the amount of optimism created by Spieth's green jacket. As Sobel said, golf is a star-driven game. Just look at how the PGA Tour worries about the power vacuum that might be left if Woods is truly washed up and done as a major tournament threat.
Should this be the tip of the iceberg for Spieth, the PGA would have two stars—Spieth and Rory McIlroy—who could battle head-to-head for years. The money would essentially print itself.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, golf may be about to usher in a new era:
With all of this said, it's not like the established elite will fade away anytime soon.
Mickelson is coming off his highest finish at Augusta since his 2010 win. It's also the second major in a row in which he's either tied for second or owned it outright. Lefty won't stop being a threat to win every major tournament for the foreseeable future.
The same might also be said of Woods, who struggled somewhat Sunday but still finished in a tie for 17th overall. He also self-diagnosed and repaired an injury he suffered during the course of the fourth round, per SportsNation:
The whole "Is Tiger finally back?" storyline has gotten overplayed to the point where everybody has given up on ever seeing the old Tiger again. However, that doesn't mean Woods is completely through. He may still be good enough to compete and win a major every once in a while.
His Masters showing offered more positives than it did negatives.
Nancy Armour of USA Today argues that golf is better with cagey veterans like Mickelson and Woods clashing with the younger guys like Spieth, McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.
But the game is better, more entertaining, when Mickelson and Woods are in the mix, and their absence has been sorely felt this last year.
He won't be the only one hoping. There are still three majors left, and it's no longer wishful – wistful? – thinking to imagine Mickelson and Woods right there with Spieth, McIlroy and all the other young guns.
What a sight that would be. What a summer it could be.
Golf fans should just go ahead and make sure their weekends are free for the next few months. This PGA Tour season is shaping up to be completely engrossing with the number of talented golfers vying for position at the top of the World Golf Ranking.
A new era may be upon us.