How Jordan Spieth exorcised his Augusta back 9 demons

But the former NCAA champion from IL was thinking of what could have been after a 75 on Saturday derailed his chances to win a green jacket. He picked up two more on the par 5s and finished with birdie putts of 20 feet and 12 feet on the last two holes for a 5-under 67. Instead of pouting, he figured out how to make par. The two players in the final group are both 3 under for the day and 9 under overall, setting up a magnificent finish at the Masters. Usually resigned to fail, Garcia proved to be more resilient than ever.

He was a new man with a new title: Masters champion.

Fowler said: "I hit a lot of really good putts today that kept the round going".

Jordan Spieth reacts to a missed putt on the 15th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 7, 2017, in Augusta, Ga.

That playoff didn't last long.

An errant tee shot at the 14th wound up on the pine straw right of the fairway, his view of the green obstructed by several trees. From 185 yards his approach shot didn't hit the green, it flew right into the hole for an eagle.

"I spent time with him before the Ryder Cup, but that's probably the most I've been around him".

It eventually was fixed, though that was of no concern to the 37-year-old Spaniard.

"Ser-gee-oh! Ser-gee-oh!" the delirious gallery chanted to Garcia, who couldn't contain his emotion. He turned with his arms to his side, blew a kiss to the crowd and then crouched again and slammed his fist into the turf of the green.

"Justin wasn't making it easy. He was playing extremely well", Garcia said. "So I know that; if I am able to jump out into the lead, I know that you have to keep the gas pedal down and pretend you're not".

Garcia would be a popular victor considering today would have been the 60th birthday of one of his idols - golfing legend and fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros. And it was Jose Maria Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999, who sent him a text on the eve of the Masters telling Garcia to believe and "to not let things get to me like I've done in the past". He battled to the end.

"If there's anyone to lose to, it's Sergio. He deserves it", Rose said. "He's had his fair share of heartbreak". Rose was poised to deliver a knockout on the par-5 13th when Garcia went left beyond the creek and into the bush.

Garcia said in his post-Masters press conference that he didn't really get exhausted of being asked about being the best player without a major because at least he was the best at something.

"Because he's won here before", he said. Four times he was runner-up.

Ernie Els will be playing with a marker in what could be his final round at the Masters.

Garcia only really got out of position on the scoreboard.

It is the third time in four years Spieth has found the drink on the same hole but last year's certainly the most traumatic. "That's just golf and that's Augusta, I guess". "So it means that I have to stay positive, continue to play good, aggressive golf".

Thomas Pieters of Belgium had an impressive showing in his first Masters appearance - firing 4-under-par 68 Sunday to climb up the leaderboard.

There are 18 players within six shots of the lead, a margin that can shrink as quickly as a couple of crowd-pleasing eagles on the 13th and 15th holes.

Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters champion, birdied three of the last six holes to card a 69 and was four down in a tie for 10th. Garcia shot a 71 on Sunday to lose by one to Tiger Woods, who shot 72.

"It's the kind of place that if you are trying to fight against it, it's going to beat you down", Garcia said. He made the cut at a major for the second consecutive time.

"If it, for whatever reason, didn't happen, my life is still going to go on". "Unless anything insane happens between now and then".

  • Larry Hoffman