Danny Willett Wins the Masters as Jordan Spieth Collapses | Waterfront Properties Golf Blog

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Danny Willett Wins the Masters as Jordan Spieth Collapses


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It wasn’t supposed to end like that.

Danny Willett left Augusta National Sunday night with the green jacket, but it wasn’t supposed to end like that. Jordan Spieth, who had lead for three straight days, just like he did in 2015, seemed to finally be firing on all cylinders as he approached the back nine Sunday. While he had seemed to struggle at times during the week, he did enough to keep the lead and found himself with a four shot lead heading to the ninth hole. On twitter, the narratives were already starting to be written. Spieth was going to become the first golfer ever to win consecutive Masters without ever trailing at any point. He was going to be a three time major winner before the age of 23. It seemed to be the lock, it was just a matter of making it official. I event went as far as to say this one twitter, and most of Golf Twitter wrote similar thoughts as well:

As they say, “That’s why they play the game.”

Before I go any further, let me stop and say that Danny Willett is absolutely a worthy champion. He wasn’t even sure if he was going to be able to play in the Masters because his wife was pregnant with their first child. Her due date was actually Sunday, but the baby came early allowing him to make the trek across the pond to Augusta Natioanl. He then went out and shot a bogey free 67 on a day when nobody around Spieth was doing anything to keep the pressure on. To see him run down Spieth wasn’t as shocking as the way it happened. What transpired in the final hour and a half is something that I don’t think anyone saw coming, and many had trouble comprehending.

Spieth birdied the ninth hole to take a five shot lead into the turn. It was his fourth birdie in a row and it seemed like Spieth was in a place where he was going to turn on the afterburners and run away with it. After leaving his approach shot on 10 in the bunker, Spieth, who had been lights out with the putter all week, had a rare three putt bogey. At the same time, Willett birdied the 13th and the lead was down to three. Spieth hit a bad tee shot into the trees on 11 and was forced to lay up. Another bogey ensued and Willett went on to make birdie again at 14. Spieth’s lead had shrunk to one headed to the 12, but he still had the lead. What transpired over the next 12 minutes will live in golf lore in the same sentence as Norman at the Masters in 1996 and Jean van de Velde at the 1999 Open Championship.

Spieth stood on the 12th tee and wanted to hit a draw. He worried about the wind, backed off his ball, and decided instead to hit a fade. He didn’t look comfortable in his swing and pushed it short and right. The ball hit the bank across from Ray’s Creek and rolled back in. Spieth took his drop but chose not to take it from the drop zone, instead settling on a spot about 80 yards from the hole. Spieth chunked his next shot so bad it didn’t even have a chance, splashing into Ray’s Creek again. Spieth dropped again, and while hitting behind the ball again, this time got it over the water. The ball rolled through the green into the bunker. He splashed out of the bunker and hit in his three footer for a 7. His one shot lead was now a three shot deficit.

“Big picture,” Spieth said afterward, “this one will hurt. It will take a while.”

“A tough 30 minutes for me I hope I never experience again,” He added.

While many of us might have chucked our wedge into the Creek and then followed it in to get away from the moment, Spieth powered through.

He quickly birdied the 13th to get back to 2-under. Willett was in at 5-under, and after a birdie miss at the 14th, Spieth new what he had to do. 3 birdies in his final four holes and he would be able to force a playoff. Spieth stiffed his his approach shot at the 15th to six feet. He made his birdie and was just 2 back heading to the par 3 16th that had already seen multiple aces on the day. Everyone got the feeling that Spieth was going to overcome the 12th and once again have a shot at the green jacket. He hit his tee shot to eight feet at the 16th, practically kick in range for him the way he had putted all week. Another uncharacteristic miss resulted in a par and once again, the wind had been sucked out of him. A bogey at 17 was a mere formality, Danny Willett was the 2016 Masters Champion.

Speith was graceful in defeat, presenting Willett with the green jacket in two separate ceremonies as the past champion from the year before. He stood up there and answered everyone’s questions. Willett was also grateful in victory, sharing his admiration in how Spieth handled everything coming down the stretch and after.

“As you can imagine, I can’t think of anybody else who may have had a tougher ceremony to experience,” Willett said.

After the ceremony, the two went their separate ways. Willett headed to the winner press conference, while Spieth headed home, wondering what happened in that final hour and a half.

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About Dan Hauser

As an avid golfer and sports enthusiast, Dan has had a passion for sports starting at a very young age. Dan’s other passion has always been writing. Since the time he could write, he has always enjoyed sharing information with people and telling stories through writing. In middle school he combined his two loves by joining the school newspaper in the sports department.