He pretty much had it in the bag. A five shot lead going into the back nine of the final round of this year's Masters. What could go wrong? Turns out -- plenty -- and it did.
Spieth bogeying the 10th and 11th holes, both very difficult, was nonetheless somewhat surprising. After all, he had birdied the last four in a row on the front nine to post a super impressive score of four under par 32 going out. Augusta National was one tough hombre this year. Any round at par or below was considered outstanding. But then the wheels fell off.
On the par 3 12th hole, a modest 170 yards, the defending champion did the unthinkable. His tee shot -- merely a wedge -- fell short and bounced back into the water in front of the green. OK, those things can happen. But then shooting 3 from under 100 yards, the Texan hit a fat duffer shot back into the water again. His fifth shot went over the green and into a sand trap. He was able to get "up and down" from there, but the scoreboard read 7 -- a quadruple bogey.
Instead of being 5 strokes ahead merely a half hour before, add it all up and Spieth then found himself 3 behind. Meanwhile, unheralded 28-year old Brit Danny Willett was quietly putting together a spectacular final round. At even par after the first three rounds, Willett would shoot the best round of the day -- a 5 under 67. This is the same guy that once turned down a PGA card so he could remain on the European tour. Few golf fans in the "new world" had ever heard of him. In fact, he might not have even BEEN at this tournament, save for the fact his wife gave birth several days earlier than expected.
Turned out, Willett knew exactly when to head west across "the pond" and tee it up in azalea land.
While Jordan Spieth was choking away another win, Danny boy was rock steady. Other notables like Jason Day, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler and Henrik Stenson had already fallen too far behind. Lee Westwood made a brief charge, but his collar always tightens up in crunch time, particularly with the putter. Phil Mickelson was in contention for a minute, but faded fast as well.
So congrats to Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, and a worthy one at that. Shooting a final round 67 in arguably the most prestigious golf tournament in the world -- on a course that was playing super-tough -- is praiseworthy indeed.
As a Masters' champ, he doesn't have to worry about qualifying for ANYTHING in the future. His parking pass has most definitely been validated forevermore.
Then came the awkward moment. It was bad enough Jordan Spieth had blown a tournament he all but had in the bag, there was the little matter of presenting the fabled "green jacket" to the new champion.
By tradition, last year's winner (Spieth) has to do the honors. One can only imagine what was going through Jordan's mind as he helped Danny into his spiffy new green coat. Ouch.
Though he handled it with class, Spieth had that Texas look about him we came to know from another notable in the past. Tight-jawed, with a bewildered look about him. Kind of like when W heard the bad news about no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq after invading it.
Like George and his hubris, like Jordan on the back nine.