Monday, November 20, 2017
Golf

Masters quickly goes wrong for Jordan Spieth

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth showed no nerves before Sunday's final round, high-fiving Justin Rose's swing coach Sean Foley, bantering with playing partner Bubba Watson and appearing completely in his element, a 20-year-old ready to prove that experience matters as much as the color of your shirt.

"We felt as relaxed as we possibly could," said Michael Greller, Spieth's caddie, "given that it was a Sunday at the Masters."

Tied for the lead after three rounds, Spieth got off to what he called "a dream start" — 3 under through seven holes. He led Watson by two, seeking to become the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

But Watson seized a two-shot lead in a span of two holes and cruised to the victory. Spieth tied for second, the youngest to finish second or better at the Masters and the youngest to finish second at any major since Sergio Garcia in the 1999 PGA Championship.

"It stings right now," Spieth said. "I had it in my hands."

The turning point for Spieth came on the par-5 eighth hole. From well right of the green, he pitched and yelled, "Sit!"

But rather than go long, his ball took one hop and stopped 25 feet from the hole.

"I was baffled," Spieth said.

Spieth three-putted for bogey, and Watson birdied to tie him.

Greller told Spieth to "Stay present" — their mantra. But Spieth bogeyed No. 9 after his approach rolled back into the fairway.

And at the par-3 No. 12, he chose a 9-iron, which typically carries 143 yards. That's the distance he needed to fly the front bunker. But as soon as Spieth made contact, he said, "Go! Go!"

Spieth's ball landed on the front of the green, well right of the bunker, and spun back into Rae's Creek. "There was no wind at all," he said. "It was just dead. … That was tough, tough to swallow."

Scott blames putting: Adam Scott came up short in his bid to join an elite group at the Masters, and he put most of the blame on his putter. The Australian was trying to become the fourth player to win consecutive Masters titles (Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods all have accomplished that), but Scott never got going after his 69 on Thursday. He finished with 72-76-72 to end up 1-over 289.

"It's not been my best week with the putter," Scott said. "My pace was off on the long putts. And when it gets on fire around here, you're going to have a lot of long putts. I missed my share of them and had some three-putts."

Par-5 struggles: Rory McIlroy wasn't ever really in the hunt, and a lot of his struggles came on four par-5 holes. McIlroy finished at par 288. He was also even on the par 5s.

"I played the par 5s in even par this week, which you just can't do out here," he said. "You're looking to play the par 5s somewhere around 10 to 12 under. And obviously if I had of done that, it would have been a different story."

McIlroy tied for eighth, his best Masters finish in his sixth appearance.

"It's been a frustrating week, because I felt like from tee to green, I played as good as the leaders," he said.

Record prize money: The Masters is distributing a record $9 million in prize money this year. Watson gets $1.62 million, up from $1.44 million in 2013. Second-place finishers Spieth and Jonas Blixt get $972,000 each, up from $864,000 a year ago. The Masters doled out $8.102 million in 2013. Ten years ago, the total payout was a little more than $6.28 million.

Twitter post of the day: "I'm off to Nevada Bob's to buy some left-handed clubs — seems like the secret around this place #Lefties." — Luke Donald

Information from ESPN and cbssports.com was used in this report.

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