By Steve Keating
Jordan Spieth was crowned Masters champion on Sunday and immediately hailed as the new face of golf after completing a wire-to-wire win at Augusta National.
With a winning game and winning personality, the humble 21-year-old American won over fans around the world with a fearless and clinical display of golf, rewriting the Masters record book on his way to the first of what is predicted to be many major victories.
“This was arguably the greatest day of my life,” Spieth told reporters. “To join the club that is the green jackets and to join Masters history and put my name on that trophy and to have this jacket forever, it something that I can’t fathom right now.
“It all happened quickly. Sometimes it feels like a long time ago and sometimes it feels like yesterday.”
Since taking PGA Tour rookie of the year honours in 2013, Spieth has been on a meteoric rise up the golf rankings.
His Augusta win saw him move up to number two on Monday, one step closer to his goal of being the best.
“The ultimate goal that I have mentioned each week is try to become the number one player in the world,” said Spieth, who recently signed a 10-year endorsement deal with sportswear giant Under Armour.
“I’m still chasing that goal. It’s going to be very difficult but to be a large step closer is huge.”
Spieth becomes only the fifth man and first since Raymond Floyd in 1976 to post a wire-to-wire Masters victory. In the process he set 36 and 54 hole records for the tournament while his 28 birdies over four rounds smashed Phil Mickelson’s 2001 mark of 25.
With a birdie at the 15th he became the first ever to reach 19-under before a bogey at the last left him on 18-under 270. The total matched the lowest ever Masters winning score and made him the second youngest behind Tiger Woods to wear the green jacket.
In his Masters debut last year the young Texan played in the final pairing and finished tied for second behind winner Bubba Watson.
He has played a total of eight competitive rounds at Augusta and at the end of each, he was in the top five, the most important coming on Sunday when he signed for a two-under 70 for a four-shot victory over major winners Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.
Even more impressive was the manner of Spieth’s win.
He began the final round with four shot cushion and ended it the same way, withstanding an all-out assault from some golf’s biggest names.
Rose, playing in the final pairing with Spieth, came out determined to put pressure on his young opponent with birdies on the opening two holes.
But each time Spieth answered with a birdie of his own.
Rose clawed his way to within three strokes twice on the front nine but the 2013 U.S. Open champion could not hold his ground.
Instead it was Spieth, with a birdie at the eighth and another at the 10th to kick off the back nine that opened up a six shot cushion.
“When you’re in the lead by a few shots with two major champions…there’s a lot of time to think through scenarios and listen to the roars,” said Spieth.
“Once we get to 16 there, that’s when it started to kick in that we were getting close to the finish line and other thoughts started to come in.
“But unlike in the past, in the distant past, say a year ago, this time, I was ready to make those putts.”