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Masters 2015: Jordan Spieth emerges as the brilliant new star of golf

By Kevin Garside

The test was always going to be about character, mentality, headspace. Jordan Spieth can play golf all right, but could he get his ball around Augusta National on the last day of the Masters? The question all America, and one Englishman by the name of Justin Rose, was asking... and Spieth answered it in stunning style yesterday.

Make no mistake, a new star of golf is born; watch out, Rory.

Spieth finished a jaw-dropping 18 under par; a fluffed putt on the final hole meant he didn't surpass Tiger Woods' record at Augusta, but he won't be caring about that this morning.

This brilliant young player romped to his first major championship, shooting 270 to become the first wire-to-wire winner of the green jacket since 1976.

No one got closer than three shots of the lead all day, and Spieth ended a 2-under 70 to hold off joint runnersRose and Phil Mickelson, who finished four shots back

No one else was closer than seven.

Spieth became the first Masters champion to lead after every round since Raymond Floyd 39 years ago, and only the fifth in the history of the tournament. And it was a bit of redemption after he played in the final group a year ago making his Augusta debut, building a two-shot lead but fading to a runner-up finish behind Bubba Watson.

"This is the most incredible day of my life," Spieth said afterwards.

"To achieve this, and in front of my family and friends, is something special.

"To be honest, it hasn't sunk in yet, and I'm still in a state of shock."

Shock or not, Spieth is already thinking ahead.

"I want this to be the first of many majors," he said.

Spieth's total of 28 birdies beat the previous best of 25 set by Mickelson in 2001, his last of the week on the 15th also making him the first player ever to reach 19 under par in the Masters.

Now ranked second in the world, Spieth is just five months older than Woods was in 1997, having almost become the youngest ever champion when he led by two shots after seven holes of the final round on his debut last year.

Rose twice got within three shots of Spieth on the front nine thanks to birdies on the first and second and bogeys from Spieth on the fifth and seventh, the latter coming after Rose conjured up a remarkable pair after twice tangling with the trees.

Spieth had said after his third round he could not rely on his short game to secure a first green jacket, but an excellent pitch from just short of the eighth green set up a birdie that Rose could not match.

And when Rose three-putted the ninth Spieth had the comfort of a five-shot lead with nine holes to play, with Mickelson another shot back having also bogeyed the ninth.

Spieth took another massive step towards the title with a birdie from 20 feet on the 10th and saved par after a wild tee shot on the 11th to maintain a six-shot lead over Rose and Mickelson - who had also birdied the 10th - with seven holes to play.

A lapse in concentration saw Spieth three-putt the 12th as Mickelson birdied the 13th and the six-shot lead was suddenly down to four.

But Spieth responded with a superb long-iron approach on the 13th and although he missed from 14 feet for eagle, the resulting birdie took him five clear with five holes to play.

Rose closed the gap once more with a birdie on the 14th seconds before Mickelson joined him on 14 under by holing out from a bunker on the 15th for an eagle, the roar causing Spieth to back off his par putt on 14.

However, Spieth responded once more with a birdie on the 15th to become the first player ever to reach 19 under par in the Masters and that effectively made certain of the win.

The youngster went into the final round well ahead, but we all know that leads have gone before. A six-stroke advantage failed to keep Greg Norman afloat in 1996. He eventually finished eight strokes behind champion Nick Faldo.

Our own Rory McIlroy at the same age as Spieth, 21, could not make use of the four-shot lead he enjoyed in 2011, coming home 15th after his epic disintegration on the back nine.

There is arguably no test like it in golf since this place inspires those behind as much as it constricts the leader. There were signs late on Saturday, with the double bogey on 17 and the up-and-down rescue at the last, that the tournament was beginning to invade Spieth's consciousness.

This was the ground Rose, who finished with a score that would have won 73 of the previous 78 Masters tournaments - had hoped to mine yesterday, and you have to admire his efforts.

But the day, the weekend, and the galleries of Augusta belonged to Spieth.

Suddenly he is the name on everyone's lips; fame and fortune surely beckons.

Could this be a stunning one-off?

You have to think not. It's often said that if you have the game to tame Augusta, you can handle anything.

Rose said afterwards: "you have to take our hat off to this guy. He played brilliantly all tournament and is a worthy champion." He certainly is.

Belfast Telegraph


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