By Jay Betsill
Take a moment to let that sink in as it seems like it was not that long ago when he was contending at the Byron Nelson at age 16 via a special exemption. That’s because it was not that long ago.
His wire-to-wire victory at the Masters is the first since Raymond Floyd in 1976 and has the golf world buzzing at the talk of a rivalry between Spieth and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. McIlroy, who was attempting to win the career grand slam and his third consecutive major title, finished fourth.
“It’s awfully impressive,” McIlroy said. “It’s nice to get your major tally up and running at an early stage in your career. It’s great to see, great for the game, and I’m sure there will be many more.”
The win of historic proportions was even more significant as he held off the titans of the game who were all over the leader board behind him: McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and former Masters champion Zach Johnson. Even a semi-resurgent Tiger Woods, who would tie for 17th in his first action in nine weeks, could not steal the spotlight from the Dallas resident.
Spieth came to Augusta National as the hottest player on the planet following a win at the Valspar Championship followed by a second place finish at the Valero Texas Open and another second place finish at the Shell Houston Open. After an opening round 64, he never looked back en route to his first of will likely be many major championships.
“This was the ultimate goal in my golf life,” Spieth said.
Among the Masters records he established this week:
— The 36-hole record at 14-under 130.
— The 54-hole record at 16-under 200.
— The most birdies for the tournament at 28.
— The lowest opening round by a champion at 64.
— The youngest player to lead after the opening round.
“He has no weaknesses,” Mickelson said, after the 10th time he has been runner-up in a major. “He doesn’t overpower the golf course, but he plays the course strategically well. He plays all the shots properly. And he has that ability to focus and see things clear when the pressure is on and perform at his best when the pressure is on.”
Thanks to his victory Sunday, Spieth jumped from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, passing Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson.
Good news for DFW sports fans, as of press time, Spieth is expected to play on both the Crowne Plaza Invatational at Colonial in Fort Worth and AT&T Byron Nelson in Las Colinas.
Next up on the PGA Tour is the RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head. Big names scheduled to play at Harbour Town Golf Links include Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed, Tom Watson and Masters champion Jordan Spieth.