Date: April 13, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Spieth simply the best

Jordan Spieth has destroyed records, myths and his rivals’ spirit on his way to becoming the second youngest Masters champion.

The reigning Australian Open champion steamrolled his way to a four-shot victory at a record equalling 18-under-par 270, capping an unrivalled four-round domination of Augusta National.

Spieth, at 21 years and eight months, is just five months older than Tiger Woods when he first won the green jacket in 1997.

But after a week that will inevitably draw comparisons with the former long-standing world No.1, Spieth’s iron will and domination of the event might even be better.

The Texan became just the fifth player after Craig Wood (1941), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972) and Ray Floyd (1976) to lead throughout the Masters.

He obliterated the most birdies mark of 22 by Phil Mickelson in 2001 with a mind-boggling 28 for the week – at the almost inconceivable rate of one every 2.57 holes.

He became the first man to reach 19 under at Augusta National, although his closing bogey dropped him into a tie with Woods for the lowest aggregate of 270.

In eight career Masters rounds — 71-70-70-72 last year and

64-66-69-70 this week – he averages 69.125 strokes and has never shot worse than par.

So how good is that historically? Well admittedly Spieth’s is a small sample size, but Woods averages a shade better than 71 and is the standout leader among all other players.

By better comparison, Adam Scott averages more than three strokes more per round over his 14 years at Augusta National.

But arguably the best way to demonstrate how good Spieth’s effort was comes from those who, with growing futility through the week, chased him home.

Three major champions behind him – Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson at -14 and Rory McIlroy at -12 – were representative of the who’s who in the hunting pack.

In 79 stagings of the Masters, that -14 score would have won outright all bar nine times – and in three of those been good enough for a playoff.

And yet Spieth won by four strokes. Extraordinary.

His calm exterior offered no signs of the turmoil he said was fighting from within.

“It was very nerve-racking today. I thought it might be a little bit easier than yesterday having played the rest of the week, but it wasn’t,” Spieth confessed.

“I didn’t sleep well last night – just got out here and got in a little rhythm. I saw a putt drop in on the first hole and we were off.

“But with two major champions behind me, I couldn’t let up.”

And he didn’t.

Spieth made birdies on the first, third and eighth to go out in 35, then three more coming home on the 10th, 13th and 15th to ease the nerves.

That he repeatedly did so as first Mickelson then Rose threatened summed up his record-breaking run that included records as youngest first-round leader and low 36 and 54-hole aggregates to go one step better than his runner-up finish on debut in 2014.

“It’s the most incredible week of my life. It’s as great as it gets in our sport and this is a dream come true,” he said.

“I didn’t break 70 last year, even though I had a chance to win … but to shoot some low rounds, to see some putts go in and hear those roars, it was remarkable.”

Spieth, a good friend and student of retiring two-time champion ben Crenshaw, got an equally rousing ovation as his fellow Texan as he took the coronation march up the final hole with an unassailable lead.

“That was great, I saw my family and friends right behind the green there and at that point I knew that it was a done deal,” he said.

‘To be honest, it still hasn’t kicked in. I’m still kind of in shock a little bit.

“But it was really cool to share that experience with my family, they haven’t been there for my other couple of times I’ve won, so this was special.”

And if you wondered how such an epic win would affect the mindset of a now three-time PGA Tour winner at such an early age, fear not.

“I want to win two Masters,” Spieth beamed.

“I’m excited already to come back.”