Date: April 11, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

Willett’s Masters after Spieth meltdown

England's Danny Willett has won the Masters after an amazing Amen Corner meltdown by golf's apparent iron man, Jordan Spieth.

The American appeared to be cruising as he went to the back nine five ahead, having led at the end of all three previous rounds, and on his way to back-to-back wins at Augusta National. He had made his run with four consecutive birdies from the sixth, concluding with a brilliant, curling putt on the par-four ninth.

But Spieth, just 22, revealed a human side when he was bitten by the famous par-three 12th, in the heart of Amen Corner, hitting his tee shot and then another ball into Rae's Creek and taking a quadruple bogey seven. Walking to the tee a shot ahead of Willett, he was suddenly three behind. "I just put a bad swing on it at the wrong time,'' an emotional Spieth said later.

Spieth's back-nine implosion — he shot 41 — will go into the legion of Masters meltdowns with Greg Norman (1996) and Rory McIlroy (2011). In the end, he tied for second with England's Lee Westwood after closing with a 73, including seven birdies.

It was not to be an Australian challenge this year, with Jason Day (73) never threatening. The Queenslander began the final day just three behind Spieth, but could not make anything happen. Day's only birdies were on par-fives as he struggled today, and he finished tied-10th.

It was Willett who made the play with a brilliant 67 to post five-under par, and he waited in the clubhouse as Spieth tried to pull his game back around on the last few holes. The American made two birdies and hit it close at the 16th, giving himself a chance. But his run ended at the 17th, where his approach found the front trap and he took bogey.

Willett, 28, embraced his caddie knowing that he had won his first major having led the tournament for just three holes, and as was quickly observed, the son of a vicar had won the a Masters that was decided at Amen Corner.

"It was a very surreal day when you look back at the ebbs and flows,'' he said afterward, receiving the winner's green jacket. "We're just fortunate the shots we hit were correct at the time and we holed a few putts when we needed to.''

The Englishman will leap into the world's top 10 players and while he has escaped notice previously, he is an outstanding player. He was already ranked No. 12 in the world before today, and he was the No. 2 player in Europe behind Rory McIlroy last year.

It was a day when the scoring was a little better, helped by hole-in-ones from Davis Love and Louis Oosthuizen at the 16th. Oosthuizen's shot will go into the annals because it ricocheted off the ball of his playing partner, JB Holmes, and trickled into the cup, surely a first.

Sadly, Spieth threw it away, but there will be many more chances for him ahead. "I just think it was really it was a very tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I never have to experience again,'' he said.