When Jordan Spieth finished runner-up to Bubba Watson in the 2014 Masters golf tournament at Augusta, he probably hoped that he would return one year and win the prestigious tournament. The 21 year old American would not have envisaged breaking several records in winning the 2015 renewal by four shots from Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson with pre-competition favourite Rory McIlroy a further two shots back in fourth position. The 18 under par score by Spieth equalled the tournament record and but for a bogey on the last hole, he would have carded a unique winning total.
Most of the pre-Masters hype had focussed on McIlroy adding his first Masters title to the three ‘Majors’ already claimed by the Northern Irishman, and on Tiger Woods returning from both injury and a serious loss of form. Yet it was Spieth who claimed the opening day honours on Thursday by completing his round in 64 shots (8 under par) to secure the early lead.
Not content with that performance, Speith then posted a 66 during the following day to register 14 under par for the opening two rounds, which is a Masters record. Meanwhile, both Woods and McIlroy were trailing the leader by 12 strokes with the prospect of playing attacking golf now becoming essential
There were signs of the third day of Woods mounting a challenge after he birdied both the second, third and fourth holes but he could not maintain the momentum and finished the day with a score of 68 to trail Spieth by 10 strokes, with the leader carding a rather average 70 by his standards. Yet it was Rose and Mickelson who appeared set to test the nerve of the younger player especially with the Englishman scoring 67 on the third day to move within 4 strokes of Spieth.
As the golfers prepared for the fourth day, Mickelson was viewed as a serious threat at just five behind the leader and with a reputation for scoring low totals during the final round. However, the challenges to Spieth never really materialised as his lead was never reduced to less than three strokes. He produced a consistent round of golf in posting another 70 total and even eclipsed the record number of birdies for a Masters tournament when claiming his 28th at the 15th green.
Mickelson briefly registered a hope of overhauling Spieth when chipping into the hole from a bunker at 15 to claim an eagle but on course conditions which had been softened by recent heavy rain at Augusta, Spieth was able to withstand any challenges as some slower greens bemused many of the golfers.
McIlroy produced a late flurry to score a final round of 66, but the week belonged to Spieth and he has already been earmarked as a potential challenger for the remaining three ‘Majors’ this season.