The Masters 2016 - Round 4 Reports - Scores
Danny Willett wins after Jordan Spieth back nine collapse
Jordan Spieth couldn't bear to watch, turning his head before another shot splashed into Rae's Creek. Moments later, Danny Willett looked up at the large leaderboard at the 15th green and couldn't believe what he saw.
This Masters turned into a shocker Sunday, right down to the green jacket ceremony.
Spieth was in Butler Cabin, just like everyone expected when he took a five-shot lead to the back nine at Augusta National. Only he was there to present it to Willett, who seized on Spieth's collapse with a magnificent round that made him a Masters champion.
''You dream about these kind of days and things like that, but for them to happen ... it's still mind-boggling,'' Willett said.
It was a nightmare for Spieth, especially the par-3 12th hole. Clinging to a one-shot lead, he put two shots into the water and made a quadruple-bogey 7, falling three shots behind and never catching up. Instead of making history with another wire-to-wire victory, he joined a sad list of players who threw the Masters away.
''Big picture? This one will hurt,'' Spieth said.
It was a comeback that ranks among the most unlikely in the 80 years of the Masters on so many levels.
Willett wasn't even sure he would play this year because his wife was due - on Sunday, no less - with their first child. She gave birth to Zachariah James on March 30, sending him on his amazing journey to his first major.
''We talk about fate, talk about everything else that goes with it,'' Willett said. ''It's just a crazy, crazy week.''
He became the first player from England in a green jacket since Nick Faldo in 1996, and the parallels are bizarre. Faldo shot a 5-under 67 and overcame a six-shot deficit when Greg Norman collapsed around Amen Corner. Willett also closed with a 67, with no bogeys on his card, to match the best score of the weekend.
The most compelling images came from the guy who suffered.
Coming off two straight bogeys to start the back nine, Spieth still had the lead when he went at the flag with a 9-iron on the par-3 12th and saw it bounce off the slope into the water. From the drop zone, he hit a wedge so fat that he turned his head and removed his cap, not wanting to look. He got up-and-down from the back bunker, and suddenly faced a three-shot deficit.
''I actually heard everyone grunting and moaning or whatever they do to the scoreboard when the scores go up,'' Willett said. ''He obviously had a terrible run, which basically put it right back in anyone's hands. And fortunately enough, I was able to seize the opportunities.''
He finished at 5-under 283 for a three-shot victory over Spieth and Lee Westwood (69).
Spieth was trying to become only the fourth back-to-back winner of the Masters, and the first player in 156 years of championship golf to go wire-to-wire in successive years in a major. And it looked inevitable when he ran off four straight birdies to end the front nine and build a five-shot lead.
This didn't look like one of those Masters that would start on the back nine Sunday.
But it did - quickly.
Spieth made bogey from the bunker on No. 10. A tee shot into the trees on the 11th, missing an 8-foot par putt. He still had a two-shot lead and only needed to get past the dangerous par-3 12th to settle himself, especially with two par 5s in front of him. But he couldn't. Not even close.
''It was a lack of discipline to hit it over the bunker coming off two bogeys, instead of recognizing I was still leading the Masters,'' Spieth said.
The turnaround left him dazed.
Spieth was five shots ahead on the 10th tee and three shots behind when he walked to the 13th tee.
''It was a really tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I never experience again,'' Spieth said.
Willett poured it on with a shot into the 14th to about 4 feet, and a tee shot on the par-3 16th to 7 feet for a birdie that stretched his lead. Spieth still had a chance when he birdied both par 5s to get within two shots, and then hit his tee shot to 8 feet behind the hole on the 16th. But he missed the birdie putt, and when he hit into a bunker and failed to save par on the 17th, it was over.
Spieth had led after seven straight rounds at the Masters, a streak that ended in a most cruel fashion. He shot 41 on the back nine for a 73, and was runner-up for the second time in three years.
Westwood, playing with Willett, made eagle on the 15th hole to get within one shot of the lead, and then three-putted the 16th hole to fall away.
Dustin Johnson also had an outside chance, even after four putts for a double bogey on the fifth hole. He missed eagle putts from 15 feet and 20 feet on the par 5s on the back nine, and then took double bogey on the 17th. Johnson closed with a 71 and tied for fourth with Paul Casey (67) and J.B. Holmes (68).
Smylie Kaufman, one shot out of the lead in his Masters debut, closed with an 81.
Willett moves to No. 9 in the world. He returns home to England with a gift like no other for his infant son.
''People were saying, 'Try to bring the jacket home for little man.' I think it's a little bit big,'' Willet said. ''But I'm sure in a few years' time he'll grow into it.''
Well done, Englishmen.
Sheffield's Danny Willett joined three-time winner Nick Faldo as the only Englishmen to win the Masters. Sunday was a huge day for several of his countrymen, too.
Five English players had top-10 finishes at Augusta National. Lee Westwood tied Texan Jordan Spieth for second at 2-under 286, three shots behind Willett. Paul Casey was fourth at 1 under, Matthew Fitzpatrick was in a three-way tie for seventh for even par, and Justin Rose tied for 10th at 1 over.
It was a cocktail of seasoned vets like Casey, Westwood and Rose mixed with up and comers, including Fitzpatrick, 21 and Willett, 28.
''I hope we're not changing the guard just yet,'' Casey said. ''Give us another five years or so.''
In fact, Willett, Casey and Fitzpatrick seemed in perfect synch in the final round. All shot 67s.
Nobody was better over those final 18 holes than the three Englishmen, who shared Sunday's low score.
But Casey noted that playing in the heyday of Tiger Woods made it tougher on the older guys.
''When we came through we played in the Tiger era, which was fantastic,'' Casey said. ''It also limited the opportunities you had. They don't have that now.''
Fitzpatrick, who also is from Sheffield, missed the cut as an amateur playing in the 2014 Masters. Making it to the weekend was his main objective back then, but he's hoping to build off his strong Masters pro debut.
''I think for me it's just a momentum boost coming into the rest of the season, I guess,'' he said. ''It's the first major of the season and really the start of the year for everyone.''
Willett, meanwhile, got to follow Faldo (1989, 1990 and 1996) as a Masters champion. Scotland's Sandy Lyle won in 1988 and Wales' Ian Woosnam in 1991.
''And to follow up with them it's fantastic,'' Willett said. ''They were great champions to win the Masters. And I still can't believe I'm going to be in and amongst them. And in the Champions locker room. It really boggles me.''
World number one Jason Day was "absolutely shocked" while Lee Westwood pointed to the fine line between success and disaster at the Masters after Jordan Spieth's astonishing collapse in Sunday's final round.
American Spieth, seeking a second consecutive victory at Augusta National and a third major title, was five strokes ahead before he imploded with a bogey-bogey start to the back nine followed by a quadruple-bogey 7 at the 12th.
Though he covered the last six holes in one-under, he had effectively handed the Green Jacket to Englishman Danny Willett as he finished three shots back in a tie for second place, leaving the fans and his fellow players in stunned disbelief.
"I was on (hole) 15 and I was absolutely shocked when I saw Jordan go from five (under) to one (under)," Australian Day said after closing with a one-over 73 to share 10th place. "It's tough. It's tough to win major championships.
"So many things and emotions, so many things go through your mind. Sometimes you just don't feel comfortable on certain shots. And unfortunately he hit a bad shot and another bad shot."
Spieth's worst damaging moments came at the par-three 12th where he hit successive shots into the waters of Rae's Creek in front of the green before finding a back bunker with his fifth en route to a mind-boggling seven.
"Right now it's unfortunate and I'm sure he's killing himself for it," Day, who clinched his first major victory at last year's PGA Championship, said of a player known for his mental strength.
"But we all do it to ourselves. Hopefully he just learns from it and gets better.
"You go out and lead for seven rounds at Augusta, he's done a fantastic job," added Day, referring to Spieth's achievement in holding the outright Masters lead for a record seven consecutive rounds until his meltdown on Sunday.
Like Day, England's former world number one Westwood first became aware of Spieth's stunning collapse while he was playing the par-five 15th.
"I saw the leaderboard when I chipped in on 15," said the 42-year-old. "I hadn't really looked much until that stage.
"There was a massive scoreboard out there and a lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs'. It happens around here. There is a fine line here between success and disaster on this golf course."
For PGA Tour rookie Smylie Kaufman, who played with Spieth in the final pairing, it "just kind of stunk" to watch his fellow American's collapse.
"I was really cheering for Jordan as a buddy, and it's unfortunate what happened ... just kind of a weird day for both of us," said Kaufman, who struggled to an 81 to end his first Masters appearance.
Rory McIlroy's misery at the Masters continued as his bid to become just the sixth player to win all four majors again ended in despair.
Starting the day five shots behind leader Jordan Spieth after a disappointing showing on Saturday when he was in the final pairing with the American, he never looked like mounting a comeback after an opening bogey at Augusta National.
The four-time major winner came in with a creditable 71, but that left him on 1-over for the tournament, six shots worse off than winner Danny Willett.
There is a problem with the course and the tournament, McIlroy admits, although he says that, at just 26, he is convinced that one day he will find a solution.
"Yeah, this is the one that I haven't won and this is the one I want to win more than anything else," he said.
"I won a Claret Jug (British Open), I want to win more. I won a Wanamaker (PGA Championship), I won the US Open, but this is the one that I haven't.
"Once I overcome that mental hurdle that I'm struggling with at the minute, then I know how to play this course. I've played this course very well before and I can string good rounds together, but it's just a matter of doing it."
Masters mindgames apart, McIlroy has not been in the best of form all year and is without a win since he changed to a left-under-right putting style.
But McIlroy insisted that he was happy with his game on the greens which he said had not been the reason that he had failed to win the tournament this week.
It was, he added, more a case of mind over matter.
"I felt very tentative, played very defensively, felt very similar to how I played the last round at Doral, playing with the lead," he said.
"You're just trying not to make mistakes instead of attacking and trying to make birdies. Trying not to make mistakes is not my game, that's not what I do. And if I were to have yesterday back that's what I would do differently."
Despite his young age, the spreading mental scar tissue that McIlroy carries from his collisions with the Masters is surely beginning to unnerve him.
Four years ago, he took a four-shot lead into the final round only to suffer a spectacular meltdown and a score of 80 that dropped him into a tie for 15th.
Ironically, his best final-day performance came last year, when he closed with a superb 66 and a best showing of tied for fourth. But on that occasion, he was already out of the running for the top spot.
McIlroy said he feels sure that he is not in danger of turning into another Phil Mickleson, who has won three of the four majors but finished second six times in the US Open, the only one he has yet to win.
"I'm trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen. I think that's the thing that's really holding me back," he said.
"So, the more times I can get in position to win this tournament, the more times I'll learn and I'll know what not to do.
"And I feel like I learned a lot yesterday reflecting on it and that's something that hopefully I'll do things differently."
Bernhard Langer looked every bit of his 58 years while he worked his way around Augusta National, searching for answers that never came.
Smylie Kaufman looked all of 24 during an equally dreadful day.
No ID necessary. Sunday at the Masters was a train wreck for young and old alike.
Two players from different generations started their final rounds with dreams of wearing the green jacket by sundown. They were afterthoughts by the middle of the front nine, and were playing for pride by the time the day's biggest meltdown - Jordan Spieth's undoing at Amen Corner - was unfolding.
''That was some real heat,'' Kaufman said of playing in the final group of his first Masters. ''I've never felt that before.''
Langer has. Didn't matter.
Langer, trying for his third green jacket and hoping to become the oldest major winner by a full decade, opened two shots off the lead and played in the second-to-last group. He opened bogey-par-double bogey and was never heard from again. He carded a 79 in his 114th career round at Augusta and finished at 6-over 294, tied for 24th and 11 shots behind winner Danny Willett.
Kaufman opened one behind Spieth and was paired with the defending champion. After Saturday's windblown round of 69, Kaufman said - only half-jokingly - that he was 0 for 1000 lifetime against Spieth. Make it 0 for 1,001. Kaufman shot 81. He lost to Spieth by eight to finish at 7 over, tied for 29th.
Langer and Kaufman were both in trouble before they reached the second tee.
Kaufman hit his approach on No. 1 to 4 feet and looked like a sure thing to pull into a tie for the lead before things even got warmed up. The birdie putt rimmed out.
''It would've been huge for me,'' Kaufman said. ''You make that putt, you never know what might happen.''
Langer hit his first tee shot just into the left rough. Unable to spin the ball, his second shot bounced about pin-high, but rolled off the back. He putted from the fringe but blew that 15 feet past. Bogey. On No. 3, he left his approach short, overcooked the chip and needed three more shots to get down. Double.
''I never really hit a bad shot and I'm 3-over par,'' Langer said. ''At that point it becomes very difficult.''
Their stories almost felt too good to be true.
Langer, a regular winner on the Champions Tour, needed only 27 putts during a turn-back-the-clock kind of Saturday, during which he handled the wind as well as anyone and beat the world's top-ranked player, Jason Day, by one shot despite playing 50-60 yards behind him in the fairway all day.
The German, whose last victory at the Masters came when Kaufman was 16 months old, isn't done at Augusta.
''I still think I have a couple more in me,'' Langer said. ''I played good here two years ago (a tie for eighth) and played well again this year. But it's that kind of golf course. A foot short or a foot long can mean a lot.''
Kaufman also left feeling optimistic despite the terrible day. He qualified for the Masters by shooting a 61 to win the tournament last October in Las Vegas. To that point, it was the first time he'd played in a final group.
Now, he's been there twice.
''I learned some things today, found some things I can improve on,'' Kaufman said. ''But things happen. It was just a tough day.''