Golf can be hard from time to time. Everyone who has played the game knows this to be true. On Sunday afternoon, one of golf’s best players found this to be true as well. Jordan Spieth carded a back nine 41 and ended the tournament in a tie for second. Danny Willet shot a bogey-free 67 to claim the Green Jacket, his first major championship.
Carrying a five shot lead entering the final nine on Sunday, Spieth seemed to be in total control. He had birdied his last four holes to finish the front nine with a score of 32. He then proceeded to bogey the next two holes and quadruple bogey the 12th hole. “It was really a very tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I never experience again,” said Spieth. Bogeying the 10th and 11th holes would not have cost him much as those holes usually play as two of the tougher holes on the course. Spieth stepped to the tee at the famous par 3 12th hole clinging to a one shot lead. At this point, Danny Willet had played 15 holes of mistake free golf while firing off 4 birdies to get him to 4 under par, just one back.
Spieth hit his tee shot a little to far to the right and his ball found the water at the 12th. He then chose to drop his ball about 80 yards away from the pin rather than doing so in the drop zone just short of the hazard about 40 yards away. Spieth then proceeded to chunk his next shot into the water as well and proceeded to play his 5th shot into the back bunker. He made a quadruple bogey, 7. (Watch it here.) After his round, Spieth admitted to his foolishness by not taking his time and picking out a better line for his shot. He tried to play his tee shot left-to-right towards the pin, which was on the right part of the green, but ended up fading it into the creek. He did not listen to his caddy who told him to hit it to the center of the green. Jordan made this same mistake in 2014 and he played himself right out of contention that year as well. I understand Jordan was frustrated with the previous bogeys and that his lead had been trimmed to one shot but he needs to play long and left of the pin. If it would have gone over into the bunker then so be it but at worst you make is bogey from there. With two par 5’s coming up in the next three holes, number 12 is not a hole you need to go after and make birdie. Especially after you have made the mistake in the past by also hitting it into the water. He also said that he would have dropped it in the drop zone if he could do it over again. These mistakes cost him the Green Jacket. Spieth tried to rally by making birdies at holes 13 and 15 but a missed 8-footer for birdie at 16, which would have brought him within one shot of Willet, and a bogey at 17, left Spieth three behind when he played the 18th. Spieth was quite emotional after his round but handled himself with the utmost class and respect. Although things didn’t go his way on the course today, his attitude and behavior remained of the highest quality, a quality many top-tier athletes don’t have.
It was hard to watch Jordan put the Green Jacket on Willet. Anyone who watched throughout the week saw Spieth dominate the field, for at least the first 63 holes. Willet was a very deserving champion however as he played consistently all four days, never making worse than a bogey. He hit big putts when it mattered and never looked uneasy coming down the stretch. He played like a champion and it shouldn’t be surprising. He ranked number twelve in the world coming into the event, ahead of players like Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Sergio Garcia . It’s crazy to think that even a month ago, his status for this event was uncertain as his wife was due with their first child on Masters Sunday. However, the baby came 11 days early and Danny, a new father, was able to make the most of the opportunity.
What is to be said about Spieth though? This will be remembered for a long time as the one that got away from him. With nine holes left, we all thought we would see Spieth putting on a second Green Jacket, instead, we saw him slipping it onto Willet. What if he just bogeys the 12th hole? He’s at least in a playoff then. If he pars? He wins his second straight Masters. A bunch of “what ifs” can’t change the result however. Jordan will have 361 days to think about those 30 minutes on that Sunday afternoon which cost him his 3rd major, and another Green Jacket.