Meltdown at Amen Corner: Recap of The Masters 2016
Imagine possibly having to miss playing in the 2016 Masters Tournament because you are expecting your first child to be born around that time.
A few weeks ago, that was the scenario facing Danny Willett of England.
Fortunately, the child decided to come into the world a week before the start of the famed golf tournament.
Willett made the trip — his new offspring must be good luck, as Willett completed a nice, neat 67 on Sunday for a 5-under 283 tournament victory.
Drama on the Field
Much of the drama of the day was taking place in a group behind him. Jordan Spieth, a two-time major winner, was on a mission to capture his second green jacket in a row, his first win at The Masters coming after he shot a blistering -18 under par in 2015, tieing the tournament scoring record held by Tiger Woods.
Spieth held the lead for the first three rounds when things began unraveling late in the front nine on Sunday.
He started the back nine coming off four birdies, but bogeyed both 10 and 11.
Then disaster struck — he quadruple-bogeyed the signature par-3 12th hole. Undaunted, he birdied the next hole, parred the 14th hole, and birdied the 15th hole.
Two down going into the last three holes, he missed a great birdie opportunity at the par-3 16th, sliding the putt five feet past the hole.
He made a bogey on number 17 and parred the final hole, but the damage was already done.
His wire-to-wire victory did not materialize, and Willett captured the green jacket.
In contrast to Spieth’s back nine, Willett’s round was a study in even playing and calm disposition — he didn’t have one bogey the entire day.
The last time an Englishman captured a victory at The Masters was in 1996 when Nick Faldo also scored a 5-under 67.
The similarities don’t end there. Like Speith, that year favorite Greg Norman also buckled under the pressure at Amen Corner, opening the door for Faldo to close him out and snatch the win.
Had Spieth been able to hold it together on the back nine and come away with the win, he would have been the fourth player in the history of the tournament to engineer back-to-back victories.
Even more impressive, he would have been the first golfer in 156 years of competitive championship golf to capture consecutive wire-to-wire wins in a major tournament.
Negative Crowd Reaction
After his round on Sunday, Willett said he heard the crowd groaning, so he knew bad things were happening out on the course.
Spieth’s 41 on the back nine gave him a final round of 73, putting him in the runner-up slot with a 286 for the week.
He’s been there before — he was runner up in the 2014 Masters when Bubba Watson won with a 280 score.
Spieth shared the second-place position this year with Lee Westwood of England.
Paul Casey of England tied for fourth with J.B. Holmes and Dustin Johnson of the United States.
Dustin Johnson has a long and complicated history of near misses at major tournaments.
He came within an eyelash of victory at both the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2011 British Open.
At the PGA Championship in 2010 at whistling Straits, he held a one-shot lead when he inadvertently garnered a two-stroke penalty for grounding has club that ultimately cost him the tournament.
His younger brother, Austin Johnson, is also his caddie.
Austin said they tried to focus their attention on their own game, picking out good shots and executing.
Johnson fought hard, and came within a single stroke of the lead, but lost all momentum when he carded a double-bogey on the par-4 17th hole.
Westwood Fails To Capitalize
Lee Westwood also had an opportunity due to Spieth’s missteps.
He was trailing Spieth by seven shots when Spieth stepped on the tee of the 12th hole.
By the time Spieth finished holing out with his disastrous 7 score, Westwood had moved up to only one stroke behind tournament leader Willett.
Much like Johnson, Westwood said he was not looking at the scoreboard, instead focusing on each shot as they came.
He made an eagle on the par-5 15th hole, adding excitement to the final race.
Willett takes home $1,800,000 in prize money for winning The Masters, not bad for a bloke who quit school at 16.
He later enrolled at a university in the United States on a golf scholarship.
The last time a European won the Masters was in 1999 when Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain beat Greg Norman by one stroke with an 8-under 280 turn for the week.
Jonathan Smart, Willett’s caddie, wore number 89 on his bib — the same number worn by Jack Nicklaus’ son Jackie when he caddied for his father during his legendary 1986 victory at Augusta.
Willett grew up in a supportive family.
His father, a vicar, would drop him off at a local course when he was a young lad.
The course was not around the corner.
The family had to travel many miles just to get to a par-three course that doubled as a sheep field.
His parents took a low-key approach, letting Willett grow as a player and develop his own attachment to the game.
For his part, Spieth seemed stunned by the outcome.
As he walked off the 18th green to the clubhouse, TV cameras rushed to get ahead of him for reaction shots.
He stopped in midstride, admonishing a cameraman to not take shots of his face.
Possibly he didn’t want his disappointment to show to millions of viewers.
You don’t have to worry about Spieth, though.
After all, he is only 22-years-old and a world-class talent.
He will be back in the winner’s circle sooner rather than later.
There you have the Masters 2016 highlights!
Want more info?
Check out these Masters Traditions.
No other sport brings you as much excitement every year as golf, and you can be a part of it.