From 2014 Augusta National: Masters 2014 Third Round
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jordan Spieth -- rhymes with thief -- is a 20-year-old who could steal the 2014 Masters.
Spieth and 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, tied at the top at 5-under and 211, make up the final pairing when they tee off (2:40 EST) in today’s final round.
It’s the tightest Masters field since 2006. Only 14 shots separate the top from bottom. Eleven players are within four shots of the lead.
In that group, only Jim Furyk (2-under) and Fred Couples (1-under) have won a major. A familiar Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar and Lee “Anyone Seen My Major?!” Westwood appear, but otherwise the pursuers favor a Jonas Blixt, a Thomas Bjorn and a John Senden, alone in second Saturday morning but tied with four others for fifth now.
Speaking of PGA players we don’t know, can we mention Spieth again? Even though he shot a solid 70 Saturday, you might not know him because he’s been on tour since only last year and on the planet since only July of 1993. He wasn’t born yet when Couples, who played in the group behind him Saturday, won the Masters in 1992, and he’d just turned pro around the time Watson won his Masters two Aprils ago.
“Oh,” you’re saying. “THAT Jordan Spieth.”
Hey, don’t joke around. This is serious. He became the first teen in 80 years to win on tour when, still 19, he won the John Deere Classic last year and cruised to the Rookie of the Year title. By nightfall Sunday, we could be saying he’s the youngest Masters champ ever, seven months younger than Tiger Woods was when he won his first in 1997 – when Spieth was almost 4.
He’s young, is the point. Had he not joined the tour, Spieth would be a junior on the University of Texas golf team right now. Instead he’s hinting, with all this early promise, to turn into another one of those famous Texas golf legends like Hogan or Nelson or Crenshaw.
Maybe it won’t happen. Probably won’t. Spieth has never played the back nine at Augusta National on a Masters Sunday. But no matter what, he’s certain to remember this, his first Masters. He’ll have no problem focusing, he said, because “there’s just so much that goes into each shot with how hard the course is that you’re not worried too much about … anything on the outside.”
Plenty can happen on the inside, and that’s where Spieth and Company will have issues, the Masters patrons and CBS TV cameras aside. Ask these people:
Blixt and Bjorn would each be a shot or two closer had they not hit into the Rae’s Creek tributary, within seconds of each other, on 13. Defending champ Adam Scott, who began the day in a tie for second, shot 40 on the front to disappear. Gary Woodland shot a sizzling 30 to tie the course record for the front side, birdied 10, then went bogey, double-bogey.
Brandt Snedeker, playing in his seventh Masters, five-putted the par-3 4th – from four feet. It’s a long story of lip-outs and putts past the hole, but he managed it.
And Watson shot a 74 (38-36) after rounds of 69-68. He bogeyed 1, 4, 6 and 7 on the front, and left several puts short on the back, including an eagle try on 15 that stopped 10 feet short of the cup.
Everyone will have more room than normal to maneuver since 14 of the top 30 golfers in the World Rankings won’t play here Sunday, due mostly to either injury or not making the cut. But don’t forget about Fowler, who shot a 67 Saturday. Or Matt Kuchar, who finished third two years ago, shot a 68 Saturday and will be paired with Blixt in today’s second group. Westwood and Furyk are just three strokes back.
Plus, Augusta National itself will keep everyone busy enough. So says happy Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 50-year-old whose 66 was best-of-show Saturday. He’s played here 15 times and has eight Top 10 finishes in majors.
“Patience,” he said. “That’s the secret to play this golf course. And always keep (the ball) below the hole.”
Good advice for young and old.