It was one of the worst collapses in golf history. At the end of it, a visibly distraught Jordan Spieth struggled to make sense of it all.
Spieth won The Masters Tournament the year before in 2015 and was making his second appearance ever at Augusta National Golf Club. Last year, he held a lead after each of the first three rounds and went into Sunday’s final round with a 1-stroke lead on Smylie Kaufman.
All seemed to be going well midway through the final 18 holes. Spieth birdied the last four holes of the front-nine to hold a five-shot lead on the surging Danny Willett and the rest of the field.
Suddenly, disaster struck.
Spieth opened up the back-nine with consecutive bogeys on holes No. 10 and 11 to slim his lead, but the worst was yet to come.
On the par-3 12th hole, Spieth put two consecutive balls into the water to quadruple bogey and drop him into a tie for fourth place. It was an unprecedented development, and a stunned Spieth had a tough time maintaining his emotions.
While that was happening, Willett was playing one group ahead and birdied holes No. 13 and 14 to claim the lead. A par on the final two holes put Willett at 5-under par for the tournament and had him anxiously awaiting in the clubhouse as Spieth’s round concluded.
Spieth salvaged the rest of his final round with birdies on holes No. 13 and 15, but it wasn’t enough. He needed two birdies on the last three holes, but a missed putt on hole No. 16 and a bogey on 17 put him out of contention. Willett erupted with emotion in the clubhouse, realizing that he had won one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments.
As tradition has it, Spieth — the winner of the previous year’s tournament — had to present Willett with his green jacket just moments after the collapse. He looked on as an over-joyous Willett celebrated the victory.
One would figure that Spieth’s 2016 Master’s performance will stick with the 23-year old golfer for a long time. But he’s back in contention and has his sights set on winning the 2017 tournament.