Spieth epic collapse takes its place in Augusta history
On the 20th anniversary of an epic Masters meltdown Augusta National witnessed a far more shocking collapse on Sunday as Jordan Spieth self-destructed on the back nine to gift the Green Jacket to Danny Willett.
Gasps of disbelief rumbled around Amen Corner as defending champion Spieth, who led by five shots after nine holes, dropped six shots during a three-hole stretch that will go down as one of the most stunning crashes at a major golf championship.
“It was a very tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I will never experience again,” said a shell-shocked Spieth. “I can’t imagine that was fun for anyone to experience other than Danny’s team.
“At one point I told (caddie) Mike (Greller), ‘it seems like we’re collapsing.’
“Big picture this one will hurt. It will take awhile.”
Until Spieth’s back-nine catastrophe it was Greg Norman who had been linked for two decades with Masters misery.
Each year it seemed a Masters tradition to recall Norman’s 1996 debacle when the Australian entered the final round with a six-shot cushion and agonizingly watched it evaporate while a charging Nick Faldo overtook him to snatch a third Green Jacket.
“Jordan spit the bit almost Normanesque like,” said Paul Azinger, a major winner and former Ryder Cup captain for the United States.
While Norman’s Masters dream endured a slow death, Spieth’s demise was brutal in its speed and ferocity.
In 50 pulsating minutes, the 22-year-old Texan saw what looked like an inevitable coronation turn into a death march, the day ending with a dejected Spieth trudging up the 18th fairway in the Georgia twilight knowing he let Masters history slip through his fingers.
Firing on all cylinders, Spieth stormed into the turn on the back of four consecutive birdies to build a five-shot lead.
But suddenly without warning the wheels fell off Spieth’s drive to victory. A bogey at 10, another at 11 and then the knockout punch, a quadruple bogey at the par-three 12th where he twice sent balls into Rae’s Creek.
“It’s a tough one. I knew the lead was five with nine holes to play,” said Spieth. “I knew that those two bogeys weren’t going to hurt me. But I didn’t take that extra deep breath and really focus on my line on 12.
“Instead I went up and I just put a quick swing on it.
“That hole for whatever reason just has people’s number.”
Report by Reuters
Jordan Spieth’s Masters meltdown on the back nine was hardly the first at Augusta National.
It’s not even the worst, considering the 22-year-old still had a chance going into the final few holes even after a quadruple bogey on No. 12 completed a six-shot drop-off. Danny Willett never gave him or anyone else an opening. Spieth finished with a 73 and a 2-under 286, three shots behind Willett.
Strong finishes have played a part, too, but there have been some epic collapses.
Here are some other final-round tumbles at the Masters:
-The most infamous came 20 years ago in what remains the greatest collapse in major championship history over the final 18 holes. Greg Norman shot a 78 to blow a six-shot lead in 1996. Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo did his part with a clutch 67.
Norman three-putted from about 12 feet on the 11th, sent his next shot into the water for a double bogey and had another double on 16 when his tee shot got wet again.
-Ed Sneed bogeyed the last three holes in 1979 and lost in the Masters’ first sudden-death playoff. Fuzzy Zoeller won in his Masters debut.
-Ken Venturi, then an amateur, had a four-shot lead in 1956, shot 80 in the final round and lost by one to Jack Burke Jr. It happened on TV, too, since that marked the first time CBS televised the third and fourth round of the tournament.
-In 2011, Rory McIlroy squandered a four-shot lead going into the final round. He shot 43 on the back nine and wound up 10 shots out of the lead. Charl Schwartzel won his first major championship.
-Faldo also staged a big rally in 1989, this time surging from five strokes behind Ben Crenshaw. It was more comeback than collapse as Faldo shot a scorching 65 to Crenshaw’s 71. Scott Hoch missed a putt of about two feet for the win on the first playoff hole. Norman missed the playoff after a bogey on the final hole and Crenshaw also finished with a bogey.
By Associated Press