Where anything and everything can and will happen at the Masters, I’m not sure we’ve ever seen an implosion as swift, complete and catastrophic as what happened to the defending champ, Jordan Spieth yesterday. Greg Norman may have gagged away a 6 shot lead to start the final day, but he sure as hell didn’t go into the tank up five, with 9 holes to play.
There’s no getting around it; that was an epic collapse, on the world’s biggest stage. One that he had been on before and dominated previously. That’s what makes yesterday’s implosion so shocking. That’ll happen. Just not to that guy. Not after he won it last year after nearly winning it the year before. And now when he was in position to win it again yesterday. Not when he led the tourney for a record 7 and a half straight rounds. As much as golf is witchcraft, I just never would have seen that happening to Jordan Spieth.
I mean, what’s this guy known for? How steady and consistent he is. How smart and tough he is, and the fact that he never rattles. Yet it DID. Up 5 at the turn and losing by 3. That’s nearly impossible to do. Unless you go bogey, bogey quad. 5, 5, 7. It started with a reigning champ taking that 5 shot lead with 9 to play. And ended with those 2 bogeys, 2 splashes, a quad, 10 thousand crying Jordans, and one zombie Jordan Spieth. This guy is an incredible player, a great dude, the present & future of the sport. But that was one of the worst stretches in the history of the sport. No other way to put it. Spieth even turned to his caddy and called it a collapse himself. This was not the Shark puking on the course to lose to Nick Faldo in ’96. Greg Norman wasn’t right from the first tee box that day. Everybody saw that coming. Nobody saw this. Even though he struggled to end Saturday’s round, he abused the famed Augusta track with 4 straight birdies to finish the front 9.
Amen corner or not, Spieth running away and hiding and putting that second green jacket on himself, was the surest thing ever. The guy was practically goose necking after every shot. It was OVER. That back 9 was going to be a 2 hour victory lap and an Under Armour informercial. Until it turned into a funeral. Around five eastern, Spieth had a 5 shot lead. By six he was 3 back. It might as well have been 30. As eventual champion Danny Willet put it “Golf happened.” Spieth tees off into the drink on 12. Drops. Goes in again. Then bunker. And then it was over. He did some grit and battle back to birdie 13 and 15, incredibly, but in the end there’s was just no way he was coming back from the bogey, bogey, quad. Former Champ Ernest Els 6-putting #1 on Thursday thinks former champ Jordan Spieth was scrambling on 12. The bogeys on 10 and 11 weren’t a huge thing. Nothing hurt. He was still Jordan Spieth, defending champ, with a lead and he said still on track. Until he wasn’t.
Question is, where does he go from here. His entire life and career may have changed in that hour alone. He was this close to going back to back and becoming one of the big things ever, only to implode and have one of the biggest meltdowns ever. One that will always stick to him. This dude is smart enough, and tough enough to get beyond it, but he’ll never fully get over it. Imagine how his life would look if he just did what he had always done before. Finish like a boss. Now look how dramatically different it is and consider how significantly different that narrative will be. He’ll be back. It says here, he’ll win another Masters. Maybe more than one. But after yesterday, he’ll never get seen the same again. He’s never be forgetting this one. And neither is anyone else.