Augusta, Georgia, April 10: The script was ready for anointing Jordan Spieth as the back-to-back winner of the Augusta Masters. The man from Texas was coasting along like a well-oiled machine. You could even hear the noise of tapping fingers inside the massive media centre here at the Augusta National Golf Club. But The Masters was turned on its head when Spieth sank in the water not once, but twice. Danny Willett took the opportunity with both hands, playing what was the best round on Sunday to earn his maiden major victory.
Earlier in the week Spieth spoke about playing well on the par-5 holes. He birdied three of them on Saturday and started the final round with a birdie at the second. There was a brief sputter when he bogeyed the fifth, but he soared away into the distance with a spurt of four straight birdies as he reached the turn in 32 strokes.
Elsewhere Willett was having another quiet round after starting at even par through 54 holes. Birdies at the sixth and eighth helped him move up the order, but as he made par at the 12th hole, he was still five shots off Spieth’s pace.
What followed from there was sheer drama, as Spieth made back to back bogeys at 10 & 11. Willett made birdie at the 13th and 14th to cut the gap to just one shot.
Spieth sank his tee shot at the Amen Corner, on the 12th, into the creek. As if that weren’t enough, he took a second dip with the third ball, eventually making an ugly seven at the par-3 green that is protected by the water.
Suddenly it was Willett who enjoyed the comfort of a three shot lead, extending the cushion to four when he made birdie at the par-3 16th hole.
Most golfers would have dissolved into the distance after tasting the bitterness of a quadruple bogey while leading heavily at a major tournament, leave alone the Masters. But this is Spieth, a man that seems to possess an iron will.
He birdied both the par-5s on the back nine – 13 & 15 to inch closer to Willett. There were three holes left to play and two shots to cover as Willett retired to the comfort of the players lounge.
Spieth missed a makeable birdie putt on the 16th and as he settled for par, Willett was scouring his phone to reach out and speak with his near and dear. The Englishman was clearly beginning to smell the Azaleas.
The defending champion was running out of time and as he fired his tee shot into the sand trap to the right of the 17th green, the tension in the air was palpable. Jordan took a bogey there and Willett’s caddie lunged at his boss in the spirit of celebration.
The only Englishman to have won the Masters was Sir Nick Faldo, who won in 1989, 90 & 96 accounting for three of his seven major titles. Willett joins Faldo in only his second attempt at Augusta, just the same number of attempts it took his predecessor to wear the hallowed jacket.