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Jordan Spieth, 21, captures Masters victory for the ages

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth got more than redemption and a green jacket Sunday. He took his place among the best in the game with a Masters victory for the ages.

One year after he lost a bid to become the youngest player to win the Masters, the 21-year-old Texan turned in one of the most dominant wins ever at Augusta National. He never let anyone get closer to him than three shots after his record start. He never gave anyone much hope on Sunday.

Spieth closed with a 2-under 70, missing a 5-foot par putt on the final hole that would have set yet another record. Instead, he tied Tiger Woods at 18-under 270.

For all the talk about the Grand Slam bid by Rory McIlroy and the return of Woods, this week was about the arrival of another star.

Spieth On 1"th Hole
Spieth On 1″th Hole

“It’s awfully impressive,” McIlroy said after finishing fourth. “It’s nice to get your major tally up and running at an early stage in your career. It’s great to see, great for the game, and I’m sure there will be many more.”

Spieth became the first wire-to-wire winner at the Masters since Raymond Floyd in 1976, and this might have been even more special. Craig Woods in 1941 is the only other Masters champion who led by at least three shots from the opening round to the trophy presentation.

Phil Mickelson tried to make a run. So did Justin Rose. Neither got closer than three shots at any point, and it wasn’t long before Spieth was making another birdie putt to take the drama out of the back nine.

Mickelson (69) and Rose (70) tied for second. It was the 10th time Mickelson has been runner-up in a major. Woods jarred his right wrist then he struck wood under the pine straw on the ninth hole. He recovered and closed with a 73, 13 shots behind.

Spieth won for the third time on the PGA Tour and fifth time worldwide. He will rise to No. 2 in the world, still a ways to go to catch McIlroy at the top. When McIlroy won back-to-back majors last year to establish himself as the game’s best player, the quest was to find a rival.

Spieth answered that this week on perhaps the biggest stage in the sport with his record-setting week at Augusta.

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The Masters Golf Tournament: Lot of History

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In the picture above, Gene Sarazen (at right) putts out while Craig Wood looks on. Despite his two major championships, Wood is probably most well known as the victim of Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle in the 1935 Augusta National Invitational (now known as the Masters Tournament). The shot left the two players tied at the end of regulation and Sarazen went on to victory in a 36-hole playoff.

Sarazen’s double eagle (“albatross”) was on the par 5 15th hole. It was called the “shot heard ‘round the world.” He holed out a 4 wood from 235 yards to a tough green well protected by a creek in front.

As a 20-year old he won the U.S. Open at Skokie in 1922, shooting a 68 in the final round, the first player to shoot under 70 to win. He added the PGA Championship at Oakmont later that year.  Repeating his victory in the PGA the next year, Sarazen won numerous tournaments in the ensuing years – his total eventually reaching 39 PGA Tour victories. In 1932,  he won the British Open at Sandwich, then the U.S. Open at Fresh Meadow, for a historic double in the world’s two major Open Championships. In 1933 he added a third PGA at Blue Mound in Wisconsin.

The 1935 Masters had a very strong field of 64. All four of the reigning U.S. national champions were entered – Olin Dutra, Open; Lawson Little, Amateur; Paul Runyon, PGA; and Charlie Yates, Intercollegiate (NCAA). There were also nine former National Open champs, including Bobby Jones, and two former British Open victors.

Wood went on to become a big name later. In 1941 he won the Masters becoming its first wire-to-wire champion with rounds of 66-71-71-72=280 and a three shot victory over Byron Nelson. He followed his Masters success by winning the 45th U.S. Open at The Colonial Club in Fort Worth, Texas. His score of 284 beat out another former nemesis Denny Shute by three. This was the first time someone had successfully captured the first two major championships of the year. In 1954, the Lake Placid Golf and Country Club changed its name to the Craig Wood Golf Course in honor of its native son.