By Ann Liguori
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With all the talk of Tiger missing this tournament and Phil missing the cut, the future of golf is perched at the top of the leaderboard. His name is Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old from Dallas who in this, his Masters debut, finds himself tied for the lead at 5-under with Bubba Watson going into Sunday’s final round.
Many golf fans are familiar with Spieth. He became the youngest winner on the PGA Tour since 1931 when he won his first career PGA Tour title at the John Deere Classic last year. He had nine top-10 finishes in 2013 and finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this year.
And with three rounds under par so far this week, (71, 70, 70), Spieth has been a model for patience and composure.
Spieth credits Carl Jackson, Ben Crenshaw’s long-time caddie, with helpful advice and Crenshaw himself.
And he did admit to playing a bit more conservative here and targeting the middle of the greens.
“I have a lot of respect for this golf course,” says Spieth. It seems by the scores to be playing as difficult as it has in quite a while, and with that, you have to accept par and accept the fact that you’re going to have some wicked fast putts and you’ve got to really be on your game on your speed control, even when you do hit the smart shot. So it’s not like hitting the smart shot gets you an easy par. You still have to work for it and that’s why I’ll lose some more hair as we go on this week…”
Bubba (or ‘Mr. Watson, as Spieth calls him’) led throughout the day but his five-shot lead after his eagle on the par 5, second hole, dissolved with shaky putting and five bogies. He was able to make clutch par saves on 17 and 18, finishing with a ‘plus 2, 74.’
“So all in all, a good day,” says Watson. “If somebody told me on Monday I’d have 74 and still be tied for the lead, I’d have taken it all day long.”
Matt Kuchar, with a 4 under 68 and Jonas Blixt, who carded a 1 under 71, are only one shot behind.
The story lines include the possibility of having the youngest champion OR the oldest.
50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, with a 6 under 66, carded the low round of the tournament so far. And with 54-year-old Freddie Couples only four shots back, Sunday’s round has limitless possibilities!
(The oldest winner was Jack Nicklaus. He was 46 years, 2 months, 23 days when he won his sixth Masters title in 1986.
The youngest champ was Tiger Woods in 1997, when he won the first of his four Green Jackets at the age of 21 years, 3 months and 14 days).