AUGUSTA, Ga. — This was supposed to be Jordan Spieth’s Masters, wasn’t it? Two shots out of the lead going to the final round, a former champion, ready to take chances, ready to create excitement.
But he just couldn’t make it happen Sunday at Augusta National.
Spieth felt great — “I was as calm as I’ve ever been,” he said — and played lousy. He shot a 3-over-par 75 and hit another ball into the water at the par-3 12th, this time making only a double-bogey 5, unlike the quadruple 7 he made there a year ago when he was leading
Spieth had a quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 15 the first day of this Masters. No one ever — and this was the 81st Masters — won the tournament making anything worse than double-bogey on a hole.
The 23-year-old Spieth, Masters and U.S. Open champ in 2015, began the final round with a bogey, then recovered with a birdie. Still alive. But quickly enough came bogeys at Nos. 3 and 10 and that killer double at 12.
Spieth would slip to a cumulative 1-under 287, tied for 11th — the same as pal Rickie Fowler, who paired with Spieth and trying to get his first major, shot 4-over 76.
“Bogeying the last three holes didn’t help,” said Fowler, tied for first halfway through the tournament. “I played nicely on the front. Then chipping and putting kind of went sideways on me. Every time I chipped close, I didn’t make the putt. Or I didn’t chip it close and still missed the putt.”
Spieth’s problem was his ball-striking. “I was either five yards short or five yards long,” he said. “And out here, distance control is so key. I was two yards into the rough so many times. It’s a coin flip. Is it going to jump [out] or come out spinning? I lost five coin flips is my guess.”
Overnight, the stories were about Spieth, how he was trying to emulate the late Arnold Palmer by playing boldly, aggressively. He was going to go for broke.
And then, splash, the 12th, hammered him for a second consecutive Masters. In 2016, leading, he hit consecutive shots into Rae’s Creek. This time only one. One too many.
“One of those days, I shot 75,” Spieth said, “but boy it felt real ly good. I felt great over the ball, very calm. My wedges and short game really let me down this week . . . It was the most free I’ve ever felt at Augusta National and I end up shooting one of my worst rounds.”