Beyond the Bison: Lost in translation


Doug Hendry, Senior Writer

Some of today’s interest in professional golf is often attributed to the transcendent bouts between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on the course, playing each hole like it’s their last. Now, Woods did not even participate in this year’s Masters, while Mickelson missed the cut. We’ve seen the passing of the torch to a younger generation of golfers, particularly the likes of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy.

Unfortunately, things did not pan out as expected for these three at the 80th annual Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Day and McIlroy both finished one-over par, good for a tie in 10th place out of the 89-player field. Still, this duo won’t be satisfied with their overall finish after both had opportunities to lead the Masters at some point.

Day, who currently ranks as the number one golfer in the world at the moment, had recently finished first twice in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Match Play, but was unable to keep that momentum going at Augusta National.

At the other end of the spectrum was McIlroy, who has actually struggled in recent history after having much success earlier on in his career. Looking to revitalize his play on the big stage, McIlroy was sitting in second place after the second round, just one stroke behind Spieth, before crumbling over the final two rounds.

Audiences were able to see the downfall of Day and McIlroy at this year’s Masters, but what was most surprising was the negative turnaround brought upon Spieth in the final round of the Masters. A 45-minute span sent Spieth from his second consecutive Masters victory to the most dejected player on the course.

The 22-year-old has been considered by most to be not only today’s top golfer, but the best golfer for years to come. His two-year history at the Masters—tied for second in 2014 and winning it in 2015—is why he was considered the favorite entering the start of the tournament.

And it all seemed like smooth sailing from there. The University of Texas product shot a 66 in round one to hold a two-putt lead, and went on to lead after round two and three, giving him a record seven consecutive rounds in which he led at the Masters going back to 2015.

Unfortunately for Spieth, like Superman’s kryptonite, Amen Corner became his demise. Spieth started the back nine with back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11 before what he would consider the worst one-hole performance in his professional career. A quadruple bogey on hole 12, which was par-3, dropped Spieth by a few shots below his competitors with only six holes left to try and climb back up to the top.

And fight back he did. Birdies on 13 and 15 put Spieth right back into the race, but with eyes watching from all across the country, a bogey on 17 kept Spieth from winning his second consecutive Masters. One look at his face could tell you the entire story of his day—how a three-hole, 45-minute stretch highlighted one of the biggest collapses in major golf history.

Through all of this, however, we know that Spieth will come back stronger. Still just 22 years old, Spieth has known what it’s like to finish runner-up at a major golf tournament, but not in the same manner as it  happened this year at the Masters. Now with that burning experience in mind, Spieth can move forward.

His demeanor throughout the final few holes and time after his finish shows why Spieth is such a role model and will have ample opportunities to move up the all-time leaderboard in professional golf.

Yes, it’s a shame that Spieth wasn’t victorious in the end, but we cannot take any credit away from the man who did come out triumphant— England’s Danny Willett. Willett shot a -5 in the fourth round to take the $1.8 million prize and put his name in the history of champions.

And although it had to hurt when Spieth put the green jacket on Willett at the awards ceremony, you can bet that Spieth will keep that feeling in mind the next time he is in a tight-lock race at the end of his future championship runs.

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