Masters 2015 results: Jordan Spieth wins his first major championship after equalling Tiger Woods' Masters record of 18-under-par

Spieth led from the opening day on Thursday and never looked back as he claimed his first ever Green Jacket

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, Justin Rose, was asking.

The answer was emphatic. Spieth, which according to linguist Sir Nick Faldo, translates as speedy and successful in German, fired a final round 70 to win by four shots on 18 under par from Rose and Phil Mickelson and become at 21-years-old the second youngest Masters Champion after Tiger Woods. 

There is supposed to be no test in golf like the back nine at Augusta on championship Sunday. Spieth reached that pivotal point with a five-shot lead and immediately extended it to six with his 26 birdie of the week at the tenth, breaking Mickelson’s record set in 2001. Nerves? Yep Rose was definitely feeling it.

 

And so America has its new golfing pin-up, a young man of substance claiming his first major at the same age as Woods announced his genius to the world. A year ago he led after 54 holes but could not hold on. Here he marched from gun to tape without looking like faltering.

When Rose applied early pressure with birdies at the opening two holes, Spieth responded with two in three. A bogey at the fifth after Spieth fluffed a chip saw the gap to narrow to three, but Rose was unable to bring the hammer down as he did on Saturday when he birdied five of the last six holes.

It was too little too late from Rory McIlroy, who equalled the low score of the day, 66, to finish fourth. Once again one bad nine-hole stretch on Friday, 40 on the front, cost him his chance of a first green jacket. He played sensational golf thereafter to re-inforce the idea that Augusta must fall to him at some point.

Ian Poulter shot a second successive 67 to finish in a share of sixth, his highest Masters finish, on nine under par alongside the resurgent Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson.

The sense of anticipation spread like a heavy blanket across the morning.  Most of the players had either left on were out on the course. Padraig Harrington, who missed the cut, was smashing a few drives away at the end of the range under the watchful gaze of sports shrink Bob Rotella.

Zach Johnson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were progressing quietly through the bag, their work of little interest to the crowd or the leaderboard. The arrival of McIlroy, out in the third last pairing with Tiger Woods, shattered the library-like hush that had settled on the piece.

We can assume the spring in his step was attributable to the victory of United in the Manchester derby. It certainly dipped the shoulders of his father Gerry, a City fan, who watched it with his son before setting out for the course. Four years ago McIlroy walked out on to the same stretch of turf in the eye of the storm. Starting ten behind he would need a lot to go right to be part of the story this day.

McIlroy did not turn the scoreboard until the seventh hole, but even if he had found his rhythm early Spieth, in only his eighth competitive round at Augusta, was slowly closing the door. It was that way from the off. Calm as you like he eased a three-wood up the middle at the first. Rose did likewise. “That’ll work,” said a voice in the crowd. Rose hit his approach to ten feet. Get inside that, son. Spieth did. Rose shot first for birdie and scored. Follow that, son. Spieth did. This was more title fight than golf, Spieth trading blow for blow.

Up ahead on the second green Mickelson made his first move of the day. What a Saturday show he put on, his 67 taking him within five of Spieth overnight. There is a lot of affection for young Spieth but he is at the start of his journey. Mickelson is deeply embedded in the hearts of the nation, captain America leading the charge. An eagle out of the bunker at 15 to take him to 14 under had hearts a flutter but he still trailed by four. His reward was a share of second.

Woods was never in it, his day hampered when he smashed a tree root with his approach at the ninth. He finished tied 17 on five under par. A birdie at 14 kept Rose within four but the holes were slipping quickly by. He bridled slightly after his opening 67 when it was put to him that it was something of a surprise that he might contend this week. He reminded his inquisitor that he was a major champion and that it was no surprise to him. He could not have started the final round better at a venue where momentum swings are part of the fabric of the last day.   

Incredibly Spieth matched every thrust. He has barely put a club wrong all week, all month, all year. Twice a winner this season already he arrived at Augusta riding a form wave that read in binary 1, 2, 2. Dealing with the hour before the whistle blows are often the hardest minutes to negotiate.

The cameras were pointing away from the action in the direction of the car park seeking a first sighting on the boy wonder. He foiled them by entering through Gate no.3 the entrance to Magnolia Lane, arriving at the practice facility from the opposite side. It was a clear sign that he was managing the situation on his own terms not reacting to events.

The walk up 18 was a moment he will never forget, the galleries packed around the green clapping him all the way up the hill. For a young American, there is no feeling in golf quite like that. But for a bogey at the last he would have set a record low at the Masters. Ah well, something to shoot for next year.

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