Jordan Spieth seizes the moment, and place in history, to win Masters

Jordan Spieth gets his first major golf title by winning the Masters with a record-tying score of 18 under par

The moment will forever be remembered as vintage Jordan Spieth.

Thirteenth hole. Masters Sunday. A defining approach shot awaiting.

Caddie Michael Greller had it marked off at 196 yards to the green's front edge and over the well-known Augusta National stream that has swallowed so many balls and so many Masters dreams.

By that point, Spieth had himself a comfortable five-shot lead, a final-round cushion that might tempt even the boldest of players to get conservative.

But at 21, Spieth is an accelerator, a foot-on-the-gas, bloodthirsty competitor who knew what had to be done.

With the distance, the tailwind, the adrenaline, the shot was there.

"If you lay up there," Greller said, "then you're not playing the course."

Spieth pulled five-iron.

Then, as he had all week, he took an aggressive line, a confident swing and, in pure Spieth style, barked orders at his ball as it flew.

At first, Spieth felt a throat lump, anxious his shot might have come up short and splashed. Then he heard the roar, his ball having settled 14 feet from the hole.

"That was another moment," Spieth said, "where I thought this could be destiny."

Minutes later, Spieth completed a routine two-putt, his penultimate birdie in a weekend full of them and one of the many moments that propelled him into history, into a green jacket. With a record-tying four-day total of 18-under-par 270, Spieth scored a four-shot championship triumph over Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. Then he handled it with his unique brand of confident humility.

Spieth insisted his receding hairline was due, in part, to all this week's stress. He joked as well that he'd be sleeping in his new green blazer for the foreseeable future.

"To have this jacket forever," Spieth said, "it's something I can't fathom right now."

Per tradition, at the annual Masters champions dinner, a gaggle of green jacket winners spends hours every April waxing nostalgic, comparing notes, detailing their Augusta conquests.

Now for years to come, Spieth will join that gathering to recount for his elders and later to a younger generation how he chased down history.

How his 18-under total matched Tiger Woods' 1997 dominance for the best 72-hole score ever posted here.

How his wire-to-wire win was the first at Augusta in 39 years, since Raymond Floyd pulled off the feat in 1976.

How his 28 birdies over 72 holes set a Masters record.

Even with the stakes, the pressure, the dreams, Spieth never lost his nerve. And the big names positioned to at least test the kid's patience Sunday never created enough noise.

Rory McIlroy was brilliant and bogey-free on his way to a Sunday 66, his best final round at Augusta. That cemented a fourth-place finish. Yet McIlroy still finished six shots back.

Woods never summoned much Sunday magic, his driver erratic all day as he detoured through a final-round 73, sliding from fifth place to 17th.

And in the group immediately ahead of Spieth, Mickelson created several back-nine roars, most notably with an eagle hole-out from the greenside bunker at 15. But he never got within three shots of Spieth.

Nobody did. Spieth, in fact, became only the second Masters champion to lead by at least three shots after the first round and never let anyone get closer than that the rest of the way. Craig Wood, in 1941, was the first.

So as dusk arrived, the Masters stage was Spieth's alone. His talent and patience had been rewarded. His modesty and class remained just as obvious.

"It's the way he approaches this," said his father, Shawn. "You see it in his eyes. You know what he's got in his heart. He's got a lot of support. But he keeps it all in perspective.

"I think that comes from inside first."

Last year, a runner-up Masters finish left Spieth with an intense sting that fueled his ambition. Somehow, Sunday's magical achievement delivered a high with a similar effect.

"I want to win two Masters," Spieth cracked as he exhaled in Butler Cabin. "I'm excited already to come back."

Vintage Jordan Spieth indeed.

dwiederer@tribpub.com

Twitter @danwiederer

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