A young kid walked on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday. He witnessed some of golf’s greatest names such as Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy put on a show in front of his very eyes, just to trying to reach the bar that he was setting. He stood with a look of awe and excitement at all the people that came to witness golf’s most coveted and illustrious major. But this kid was different, this kid was special. As he walked up and down the majestic fairways, seeming to control the moment with little visible anxiety, he cemented his name as a member of golf’s elite. His name is Jordan Spieth, and you can bet that he will be a household name for a long, long time.
The 21-year old from Dallas, Texas, claimed his first major championship on Sunday when he dominated the field en route to a four shot victory. Spieth finished at 18-under par, which tied with Tiger Woods’ lowest ever finishing total at the Masters, a total Woods posted when he was just 21 years old himself. Spieth opened up on Thursday with an 8-under 64 while padding his lead Friday and Saturday to create a four-shot lead heading into the final round on Sunday. Through the first three days, Spieth scored so low that he broke the opening round record, the 36-hole record and the 54-hole record.
Spieth found himself tied for the lead heading into Sunday last year, but ended up falling to Bubba Watson. This year, an immaculately calm and cool Spieth kept his poise all day despite numerous attempts from some of golf’s greats as they battled to match the firepower of the young superstar. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 12-under par, yet six strokes off the pace of Spieth. Major champions Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose finished four shots off the pace of Jordan Spieth to finish tied for second.
Spieth withstood an early charge from his playing partner Justin Rose. Rose birdied the first two holes but was matched by Spieth, who birdied holes one and three to keep his four-shot lead. Despite Rose’s three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15, Spieth stood on the par-3 16th with a lead of four strokes that was his buffer for the most of the day. The electricity that radiated from that scene was one like any other. Spieth, with a solemn show of emotion, fist-bumped after jarring a 10-foot par putt that showed him calm, cool and collected nature. Maybe the only blemish all week was the bogey that he recorded on the 18th hole that relinquished his sole possession of the lowest score ever to be recorded at the Masters. Quite fittingly perhaps, is the fact that he is now tied with Tiger Woods for that record, as it may be out with the old and in with new for the game of golf.
Woods also turned a lot of heads this week by finishing tied for 17th. Woods played some good golf and was tied for sixth place heading into the final round but shot a disappointing 73 on Sunday to finish at 5-under par. But all things considered, Woods acknowledged how hard he has worked to get himself back into competitive form this week.
“And no one knows how hard we had to work to get to this point, but I’m very pleased. This is my first tournament back, being a major championship, and to give myself a chance, it felt good,” Woods said.
Whether you are a Tiger fan or not, having the legend back and healthy is fantastic for the game. With the old rivalry of Woods and Phil Mickelson heating up once again for one last run in their waning careers, and the budding one of McIlroy and Spieth just coming to fruition, the game is in great hands.
What Spieth has been able to bring to the game off the course might be just as valuable as the outstanding play that the now world No. 2 ranked player has brought to the game on the course. A few weeks ago Spieth was asked about how his parents, Shawn and Chris, have raised him to be humble. But mid-sentence in his response, Spieth stopped.
“Me speaking about humility is very difficult, because it wouldn’t be humility,” he told reporters.
It is not very often that someone who is at the peak of the sports world is able to realize how their actions away from the game can be most valuable to their lasting image. This weekend at the Masters was Spieth’s world, and you can bet that we will all be living in it for a very long time. But questions still loom: with so many great young players, is Spieth definitely the next superstar in golf? Could he become the next Woods, a star who is able to appeal to more than just the golf audience and captivate the entire sporting world? Only time will tell. But if he is, when you think of sports’ greatest Jordan’s, Michael may not be the first to come to mind.