The Local Knowlege

The Masters

Bubba's pre-vacation media roundup, talks God and Waffle House

By Keely Levins

Before heading off to a well-deserved vacation with his wife, Bubba Watson made appearances on "CBS This Morning and Golf Channel's "Morning Drive". Here are the 6 most important things Bubba said during his appearances.

1. Perspective.  
While Bubba's not going to concede that he's completely grown up, he does have a bit more perspective than he did when he won two years ago. His adorable son, Caleb, is a big part of that. "[Caleb] puts life in perspective. Golf is a game. When I play bad he doesn't care, when I play great he doesn't care." He also credits his faith with helping him: "When you look at life, life can get you down real fast.... So for me, my faith and following the bible, looking at my son, I want to be as Christ-like as possible." The purpose of that? To be a role model for his son. Charlie Rose and Gayle King on CBS seem to think he's doing a good job of it, as they both told Bubba he's their role model. (Which was only slightly awkward.)

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2. His Real Name. 
Sorry, folks. 'Bubba' isn't on his birth certificate. "My real name is Gerry Lester Watson Jr." The late Bubba Smith was an NFL star when Watson was born, and since Bubba was a chubby baby who resembled the football player, he was nicknamed Bubba.

3. Junior Golf. 
This year was the first year of the Drive, Chip & Putt junior competition, and Bubba went out to support the young players. He talked about how his parents had supported him when he was playing junior golf. "I think for years to come you're going to see the game of golf grow. But I think it's gonna grow more when families get involved. The game's frustrating but you're gonna be learning together. You're gonna be enjoying your time together outdoors... That's what golf was to me when I was growing up and that's what I saw out there on these kids' faces."

4. Confidence.  
Bubba showed a good balance of where to be confident on the course, and where to be humble. He was humble about the experience as a whole: "I wouldn't say [I was] dominant, because I was scared the whole time." But at the same time, he was confident during significant moments on the course, like his approach on 15. "I never once thought about the water. I thought about that shot the whole time and I knew I could pull it off." 

5. His playing partner. 
There were a few casual daggers tossed between Jordan Spieth and Bubba before the final round. Bubba recalled: "I did a news conference the same day right after him and he said he was going to call me 'Mr. Watson' and I said I'm going to be out driving him all day so he needs to call me that." Touché.

6. Waffle House. 
We all know that Bubba went to Waffle House after winning, but what did he order?  The Masters champ had two grilled cheeses and hash browns. His answer to the question, Why did he choose to dine there? "Who doesn't love Waffle house?" Again, touché. 

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News & Tours

7 surprising two-time major champions

By Alex Myers

With his second win at Augusta National, Bubba Watson vaulted over a number of one-time major winners, including big-name contemporaries like Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, and Davis Love III. Major No. 2 elevates the lefty to another level in any historical discussion about golf, but it also has us wondering where he fits in on that list. Thirty-five players now have exactly two majors. Here's a look at some of the most surprising of the bunch.

Related: The winners and losers from the 2014 Masters

Bubba Watson: We'll start with the most recent winner. He's certainly the only two-time major champion to wield a pink driver and he probably has the most unusual swing of the bunch. "A small-town guy named Bubba has two green jackets. It's pretty wild," Watson said following his latest triumph. Perhaps, but with six wins and two majors by 35, Bubba is well on his way to achieving Hall of Fame status. The surprise element comes from his funky swing, but his prodigious talent is something that was bound to shine through -- even if he didn't win on tour until he was 31.

Andy North: Probably the poster boy for surprising two-time major winners, North won more U.S. Opens than he did regular PGA Tour events. After winning the Westchester Classic in 1977, North won the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in 1978 and then again at Oakland Hills in 1985. Then? That was it.

Angel Cabrera: El Pato because he only seems to surface in golf's biggest events. Part of that is because he's never played on the PGA Tour full time, but it's also because it's true. Cabrera only has five European Tour wins, but two of those are the 2007 U.S. Open and the 2009 Masters (majors count as wins on both the PGA and European Tours). Of course, he nearly took his name off this list at the 2013 Masters, but he lost in a playoff to Adam Scott.

John Daly: In a way, he was Bubba before Bubba. A guy with a homemade swing who could hit it a country mile, Daly shocked the golf world with his win at the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick as an alternate in the field. He stunned again at the 1995 British Open at St. Andrews, but he has only won one other event since, the 2004 Buick Invitational, leaving him stuck on five career tour wins.

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Johnny McDermott: Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth impressed at the Masters, but more than a century ago, McDermott won two U.S. Opens by that age. How in the world did he not end up with more than two majors? Sadly, he had a mental breakdown at 23 and was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. He spent the rest of his life in and out of mental institutions.

Johnny Miller: Why is a Hall of Famer on this list? Well, if you only listened to him boast in the broadcast booth, you'd think he won at least eight majors. Miller makes this list because his two, the 1973 U.S. Open (Just a guess, you've heard him mention that one a few times) and the 1976 British Open, seem like they shouldn't have been the only ones for a guy who won 25 times and is widely regarded as one of the best ball-strikers of all time.

Related: Yep, Bubba Watson went to a Waffle House after winning the Masters

Greg Norman: Like Miller, the Shark makes this list because it's crazy to think someone that good could only win two majors. Norman won the 1986 and 1993 British Opens, but of course, he's known far more for the majors he let get away. Although, to be fair, he had a few taken away (Think: Larry Mize, Bob Tway, etc.). In 1986, Norman had the 54-hole lead in all four majors, but only closed with a victory at the British Open, and 10 years later he suffered his most painful loss when he blew a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo in the final round of the Masters. Despite all his close calls, Norman recently finished No. 2 to Tiger Woods in Golf World's ranking of the best golfers since 1980, largely on the strength of his 331 weeks atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

Overall, while Watson may seem like an unexpected two-time major winner -- even to himself -- him being stuck on two is less surprising than any of the others on this list. And at 35 and with no plans for the Masters ever moving from lefty-friendly Augusta National, there's a good chance we'll be comparing him to guys with three-plus major titles at some point.

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Instruction

How He Hit That: Bubba Watson's curveball driver dagger

By Matthew Rudy

The shot that won the Masters for Bubba Watson wasn't the four-inch tap in on the last hole. It was a 360-yard tree-skimming parabola off the 13th tee. Watson had just taken a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth, and the creek running alongside the 13th (and in front of the green) was probably only thing that could keep Watson from a second coat fitting. 

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Watson could have played it safe and stayed to the right side of the hole, but he hit his best -- and most aggressive -- tee shot of the week, dramatically cutting the dogleg and ending up 144 yards from the flag, in the middle of the fairway. Spieth would later say that when the ball came off the face of Watson's driver, it looked like was headed out of bounds 70 yards left of the hole. Watson hit a wedge safely onto the green, made par and sucked all the drama out of the back nine. He cruised to a three-shot victory. 

"The shots he sees are amazing," says Top 50 Teacher Kevin Weeks. "The two most famous ones he's hit -- the shot out of the trees in the playoff in 2012 and this tee shot -- are amazing not just because he was able to make the ball curve so much, but because he was willing to hit those shots in such high-pressure situations. But that's the way he plays golf every day. Those shots are no different than what you see from him day in and day out."


It should come as no surprise that Watson doesn't fade the ball in the way most Tour players do. "Bubba instinctively knows how to make it curve," says Weeks. "It's a face and path relationship. To make a ball fade, the face is open to the path. Most players set it up with their body and make a similar swing. Bubba does it all with his hands. He has an incredible feel for the clubface."  

Weeks says there's a method to Watson's curveballs. By playing such a pronounced fade with the driver, Watson is able to double the effective size of his target area. "When you hit it as hard as he is, you're giving yourself a 30-yard target when you aim at the edge of the right rough and let it cut instead of a 15-yard target in the middle of the fairway with a relatively straight ball," says Weeks. "It's something the average guy should be doing on every hole with his driver.  Aim to account for your predominant ball flight and give yourself more room." 

Almost as distinctive as Watson's heavily curving tee shots is his unorthodox footwork through impact. His rear foot comes off the ground, and he shuffles his feet so that he ends up standing facing the target. "It might look like he's not in balance, but the ball is gone by the time all that stuff is happening," says Weeks. "Before that, his swing looks a lot like Jack Nicklaus' in his prime, but from the other side of the ball. He makes a huge turn and has those high hands with a lot of wrist cock. He's a tall guy with long arms, and he has a long, arcing swing. His hand action is wonderful -- like a wrist shot in hockey. He has a ton of club head speed, but he also hits it in the center of the face every time. You can have lots of speed, but it only translates into distance if you're hitting it flush."

Watson found his swing -- and his strategy -- with no help from a coach. He's never had a lesson, and he doesn't work on mechanics in the classic sense. "He just goes and hits balls until he feels it," says Weeks. "He's a lot like Sam Snead. If Snead was hitting it bad, he'd go hit balls barefoot. If he was still hitting it bad, he'd go hit balls barefoot in the mud. With Bubba, most of the time he plays bad, it's mental. Something is distracting him. He wasn't distracted this week."

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News & Tours

Yep, Bubba Watson went to Waffle House just hours after winning the Masters

By Ryan Herrington

Masters victory celebrations gloriously come in all shapes and sizes.


We would have given a sleeve of Titleists to have seen the folks behind the counter when Bubba Watson and his crew rolled into this Waffle House early Monday morning, not long after somebody became just the 17th golfer to win his second green jacket.

It is reminiscent of Phil Mickelson's famous visit to the drive thru of a Augusta-area Krispy Kreme after his third win in 2010.

Two mystery questions the photo doesn't solve:

1) Was he wearing his green jacket? (Because that would have made it awesomer.)

2) Why weren't the hashbrowns on the house?


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News & Tours

The two holes that sealed the Masters' fates of Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth

By Geoff Shackelford

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth agreed. The complexion of the 2014 Masters changed at the eighth and ninth holes, when Watson's birdies and Spieth's bogey led to a four-stroke swing.

Still, anyone watching Sunday knows Spieth was still very much in the hunt until the series of events played out the 12th and 13th holes. First it was Spieth dunking his tee shot into Rae's Creek on the former. Then it was Watson laying into his drive on the 13th. These two holes were the true turning point of the final round.

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After hitting his first shot into the water on No. 12, Jordan Spieth was forced to take a drop and play his third shot from the fairway, eventually making a bogey 4. (Photo: Getty Images)


Spieth seemed annoyed that the notorious unpredictable winds were not as forecast while standing on the 12th tee, instead playing downwind. "It's supposed to be out of the left, but it's a little down," he could be overheard saying.

He reiterated his peculiar faith in forecasters following the round. "It should have been a touch into us," he noted.

An older golfer would have remembered growing up hearing Ken Venturi's annual admonitions to always hit the tee shot into the middle of the green, no matter what. Nothing good could come from playing at the far-right hole location, so the legend goes.

Spieth liked the way he hit his 9-iron at the right edge of the bunker, where caddie Michael Greller said to play it. The number to clear the water: 143 yards.‿"I guess I just got a little too aggressive over the ball, played a little bit of a fade instead of just hitting that straight one over the bunker and it caught whatever, couple‑mile‑an‑hour breeze was up there, and made a big difference. When it was in the air, I thought that it was still there."

Actually, Spieth hit a 150-yard shot to the top of the green plateau, where his Titleist peered at the putting surface, then rolled back into Rae's Creek. Watson also played a direct path to the hole off the tee but took plenty of club and appeared to be playing intentionally long.

The duo made the short walk to the 13th tee with Watson leading by two after Spieth made a strong up and down from his drop. That's when Watson pulled out his pink Ping driver.

"I knew it … when it took off … it was cutting a little too much," Watson said of the tee shot around the tributary of Rae's Creek. "I knew I hit it really hard. Obviously, when you get a roar on your tee shot, you know it's pretty good. I could start breathing again once I heard them clapping and roaring."‿‿

That's the response one gets when they hit a tee shot more than 360 yards. Bubba's remaining yardage into 510-yard 13th? Just 140 yards, which left him with a 56-degree sand wedge.‿‿

Watson went on to two-putt for birdie and expand his lead to three. If the drive wasn't enough of a dagger, the press telling Spieth afterwords that it clipped a tree came as a surprise.

"Well, that's his day, I guess," Spieth lamented.‿

And those two shots were the 2014 Masters for Bubba Watson.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Bubba Watson used to win the Masters

By E. Michael Johnson

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The 14 clubs and ball Bubba Watson used to win the Masters are an interesting mix of standard-issue and highly personalized. Here’s not only what he had in the bag at Augusta National, but how it got in there.

bubba-driver-350.jpgFor starters, Watson hates changing equipment. Being the quintessential “feel player,” the 2012 Masters champ can sense the slightest differences, making adapting to new clubs challenging. In fact, Watson had used Ping’s S59 irons since 2004, getting a new set each November and working into them over the course of a couple months. Yet the irons Watson used to win the Masters was not the S59 but rather the company’s new S55 model Watson changed to at the BMW Championship last September.

Watson originally tested the clubs at his Orlando home but felt he was hooking the ball with them too much. He then had Ping’s tour reps flatten the lie angle on his irons one degree, alleviating the problem and prompting Watson to put the irons in the bag. 

"I trust my feel so when it feels right to me, I trust that we’ve done the right things," Watson told Golf World in 2013. 

As with most of Watson's clubs, the specs are far from standard. His 3-PW set is plus one half inch in length and the 3- through 5-irons have an extreme heel grind. The grips are massively oversized, too, with 10 wraps of tape on the top and 12 wraps on the bottom.

Watson's driver also is unique. In fact, it’s two drivers in one. The pink-headed Ping G25 (8.5 degrees) features the racing stripe found on Ping’s i25 driver, making Watson’s big stick one of a kind. The shaft is a True Temper Grafalloy BiMatrx, a graphite model with steel in the bottom section that he has used since 2004. Oh, and the sole has a rainbow-like finish, too. Watson’s driver had a D4 swingweight and the same number of wraps under the grip as his irons. His 4-wood is a Ping G25 with 16.5 degrees loft that is 42 inches long.

Although his wedges are standard, his putter -- a Ping Anser Milled 1 -- features a rainbow-like finish that Watson originally saw while visiting Ping a few years back. Watson liked the look and immediately wanted it. The putter in 34.5 inches long with 3 degrees loft.

Finally you can’t play without a ball. For Bubba it’s Titleist’s Pro V1x -- a model he has employed since he’s been on tour.

Driver: Ping G25 (True Temper Grafalloy BiMatrx), 8.5 degrees
4-wood: Ping G26, 16.5 degrees
Irons (3-PW): Ping S55
Wedges: Ping Tour Gorge (52, 56 degrees); Ping Tour-S TS (64 degrees)
Putter: Ping Anser Milled 1
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x


[Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images]

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News & Tours

Why Watson, Spieth, Kuchar and Blixt can win on Sunday. ... Or not.

By Ryan Herrington

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As you prepare to marinate on your couch and watch the final round of the Masters, here's a statistical glance of what you need to know before Jim Nantz says "Hello, Friends."

1. Stay focused on the final groups.
As much as Augusta National is lauded for lending itself to thrilling charges, it's rare that anybody playing outside the final two groups actually wins on Sunday. No winner has been worse than T-4 entering the final round since Nick Faldo was T-9 in 1989. (Only five times in the history of the tournament has a winner been worse than T-5 entering the final round.)

Meanwhile, only three winners in the last 20 years have been worse than second entering the final day (Zach Johnson, T-4, 2007; Bubba Watson, solo 4, 2012; Adam Scott, solo 3, 2013).

2. Repeat, stay focused on the final groups.
Since Nick Faldo's victory over Greg Norman in 1996, when he came back after starting the day six off the lead, only once has the winner been more than three off the lead with 18 holes to play; Charl Schwartzel was four back in 2011.

3. Can Bubba Watson or Jordan Spieth hold on to the lead? It's a about a coin flip.
In the tournament's 77 previous playings, 88 individuals have led or shared the lead after 54 holes of play. Of those men, 41 have gone on to win the Masters and 47, well, haven't.

loop-spieth-sunday-stats.jpg4. The power of 17 might lift Spieth to the title.
Spieth (above) has already set the record for the youngest 54-hole leader in Masters history, but he has his eye on something bigger. A tip of the cap to Justin Ray at ESPN for uncovering this interesting statistical trend that might suggest it will be Jordan's day:

* In 1963 Jack Nicklaus became at the time the youngest Masters champion (23 years, 2 months, 17 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 1980, Seve Ballesteros became at the time the youngest Masters champion (23 years, 4 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest Masters champion (21 years, 3 months, 14 days).

* Seventeen years later, in 2014, Jordan Spieth has the chance to become the youngest Masters champion ever (20 years, 9 months, 17 days).

Kind of creepy, no?!?

5. Nobody tell Matt Kuchar it's Sunday.
Five times in the 2013-14 PGA Tour season Kuchar has posted a top-10 finish and his overall scoring average is an impressive 69.74. However, Kuchar ranks 64th in this season in final-round scoring average (70.57).

6. Where you are on the World Ranking doesn't matter much, although Thomas Bjorn might be liking his spot.
The average ranking of the winners at Augusta since 2007 has been 29.9. Here's where the leaders stand:

Position Player World Ranking
T-1 Jordan Spieth
13
T-1 Bubba Watson
12
T-3 Matt Kuchar
  7
T-3 Jonas Blixt 56
T-5 Miguel Angel Jimenez
40
T-5 Rickie Fowler
39
T-7 Lee Westwood
37
T-7 Jim Furyk
22
T-7 Thomas Bjorn 29

































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The Masters

The 10 best unconventional gifts found at Augusta National's merchandise shop

By Stephen Hennessey

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Augusta National merchandise shop is always buzzing with hundreds of patrons, no matter what time of the day it is.

The typical gifts -- Masters hats, golf shirts and golf towels -- are standard fare for golf fans. Those go without saying. But what else does the golf shop have to offer?

We went on a mission in the golf shop for the most unconventional offerings. Want to really impress your friends? Come back home with one of these Masters gifts.

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1. Cell-phone cover ($25)

What better way to carry around Masters spirit with you all year 'round? Four styles of Augusta National's logoed cell-phone cases are one of the coolest gifts we've seen. The available styles: A checkered green or red, an all green with the image of the Augusta clubhouse and a green with the Masters logo. It doesn't come with the Masters theme song pre-loaded, but having the tune as your ringtone would make your phone complete. It only comes for the iPhone 4 or 5(s).

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2. Boxers ($40, box of two)

Why wouldn't you want Masters underwear? These boxers come two different colors: a green and light blue. And they're available in five sizes: small, medium, large, extra large and double XL. These could be your lucky boxers to wear for your weekend matches.

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3. Bowties ($65)

Talk about an instant conversation starter at a cocktail party. It's classy, elegant and actually looks good. These come in five different color combinations: A green with yellow and light blue, a light blue, a yellow with a blue stripe, an orange and a dark green with white stripes. And they all have a pattern of Masters logos.

Related: This Augusta National member might have the best job in the world

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4. Pet leash ($19) or collar ($15)

Your pet will be the coolest in the neighborhood with a Masters-logoed leash or collar. All those regular old collars you've been using? How could it compare to a Masters leash that's less than $20?

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5. Beach towel ($29)

Available in two colors, a royal blue or red, these towels would make you a star at the beach or local pool.

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6. Magnolia Lane Scented Candle ($60)

Bring the scent of Augusta National home with you with this candle. This is one of the coolest items we've seen all week (seriously). The smell of blooming azaleas is one of the most memorable aspects of Augusta. Now they've encompassed it in a candle form. Genius.

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7. Leather Placemats ($195, set of four)

A little pricey, yes. But this is a gift the whole family can make use of. When you sit down to dinner with your wife and kids, you can eat off of Masters place mats. You wouldn't want to spill any food on these, though. If you have messy eaters in your family, there might be better options.

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8. Luxury Throw Blanket ($68)

Cozying up to watch golf every Sunday with a Masters blanket? We're all in. This green blanket would be a great decoration in any living room, in addition to being a good way to keep warm.

Related: The celebrities spotted at the Masters this week

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9. Duffle bag ($79)

This seems like the perfect gift to bring home to your kid who loves golf. If he's an athlete and packs a bag to go to practice, lugging a Masters duffle bag is going to impress his buddies. Even for an older golf fan who travels a bunch, this comes with wheels so it's perfect.

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10. Set of playing cards ($12)

In a case a gin rummy game breaks out in the clubhouse, be prepared with a set of Masters playing cards. This year's edition has look incorporating the Masters logo. If your friend is into card games, these would be a great, easy gift. And they're one of the most inexpensive items here. A win!

(All photos taken by Golf Digest staff photographer Dom Furore)

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News & Tours

Bubba Watson is tied for the Masters lead, even if it doesn't feel like it

By Sam Weinman

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson was tied for the lead in the Masters when he approached the 18th green on Saturday, but this wasn't the vibe you got by looking at him. He had already flared his approach into the crowd, and chipped to five feet; and now, as he sent his par putt tumbling toward the hole, a voice could be heard in the crowd. "Oh, he missed it!"

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Actually, no. Watson's putt fell, and he ended the day tied with Jordan Spieth for the 54-hole Masters lead. But for a player who emerged from the third round with a chance at a second Masters in three years, Saturday was still defined more by the struggle than by the end result.  
 
"There's a lot of people that wish they were in my situation shooting 74," Watson said.

Related: Winners and losers from Saturday

True, but what's lost is how much better a situation Watson had been in just a few hours earlier. Beginning the day three shots clear of the field, Watson pulled ahead by five when he eagled the par-5 second hole. Then, perhaps predictably, Augusta National pushed back.

After going 296 holes without a three-putt, Watson three-putt the sixth, then he three-putt the 13th. Two holes later, he hammered his second shot over the 15th green, couldn't get up and down and settled for another par. A bogey would follow when he missed another short putt on the par-3 16th. By then, Watson's outright lead was gone.

"But again, you have to keep looking at where you're at. You're still winning at that time. So you can't get down," he said. "If you're going to get down when you're still winning, then you've got issues." 

Then with a laugh, "And I do have issues." 

It sounds complicated, but winning a Masters usually is. 

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News & Tours

You wanted the chance to shine in a major, Jordan Spieth? Well now you've got it.

By Ron Sirak

loop-spieth-518.jpgAUGUSTA, Ga. -- When Jack Nicklaus won his sixth Masters and 18th major championship in 1986 at 46, a common refrain was that we would never see the likes of him again. There was simply too much talent for anyone to ever dominate like that.

Ten years later we had Tiger Woods.

The lesson here is this: Someone always comes along. Greatness is rare, but it doesn't go extinct. Bobby Jones gave way to Ben Hogan who passed the torch to Nicklaus who handed it onto Woods.

Will it pass next to Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old Texan in position to break Tiger's record as the youngest Masters winner?

A victory Sunday by Spieth would be especially timely given Tiger's absence this year at Augusta National and the likelihood that golf will continue to be without him into the summer and, as some are whispering, maybe all year as he recovers from back surgery.

Spieth pushed his way to the top of the leader board with a gritty 70 on Saturday to finish 54 holes at five-under 211, tied with 36-hole pacesetter (and 2012 Masters champion) Bubba Watson.

Instead of Tiger vs. Phil in Sunday's final round we have Jordan vs. Bubba -- a pairing that seems plenty appealing in its own right.

Spieth, who calls pretty much everyone older than him Mister, says he'll do that Sunday. "Yup, Mr. Watson," he said during his post-round press conference, adding with good humor. "Just because if will mess with him."

The way Spieth stood up to the pressure Saturday leads you to believe he could do it again Sunday. After a bogey on No. 11 and a par on the birdieable par-5 13th, he rallied to birdie Nos. 14 and 15. He then suggested his nerves were in good working order when he made solid pars on the three closing holes to position himself perfectly for the final round.

"I felt like my lag putting was great and that's what you need around here," Spieth said. "I plan to do the same tomorrow." He called the course "pure, fair, extremely difficult and wicked fast."

Certainly, burdening Spieth with the expectation of being the next Woods or Nicklaus is unrealistic. He need not be that dominating, however, to still be special.

Spieth earned his PGA Tour card last year -- and an invitation to the Masters -- by winning the John Deere Classic on a sponsor's exemption, becoming the first teenager to win a tour event since Ralph Guldahl in 1931. He also finished second to Patrick Reed in a playoff at the Wyndham Championship in August.

So far in 2014, he's been second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, T-4 in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, made it to the quarterfinals in the WGC-Accenture Match Play and was 10th in the Valero Texas Open. There has been no let up in Year 2 as a tour pro.

"I can take a lot of confidence out of today," Spieth said. "Tomorrow is about seeing how my emotions and game hold up against guys who have done it before."

Spieth has a chance to become the first Masters rookie to take home the green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Already No. 13 in the World Ranking, Spieth could position himself to make a run at No. 1 while Woods is on the disabled list.

And wouldn't that make the anticipation of Tiger's return to competition even more intense? Seventeen years after Woods made history here, Spieth has a chance to do the same.

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