Masters misery for Spieth after shocking back-nine collapse

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Masters misery for Jordan Spieth
Masters misery for Jordan Spieth

On the 20th anniversary of an epic Masters meltdown Augusta National witnessed a far more shocking collapse as Jordan Spieth self-destructed on the back nine to gift the Green Jacket to Danny Willett.

Gasps of disbelief rumbled around Amen Corner as defending champion Spieth, who led by five shots after nine holes, dropped six shots during a three-hole stretch that will go down as one of the most stunning crashes at a major golf championship.

"It was a very tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I will never experience again," said a shell-shocked Spieth. "I can't imagine that was fun for anyone to experience other than Danny's team.

"At one point I told (caddie) Mike (Greller), 'it seems like we're collapsing.'

"Big picture this one will hurt. It will take awhile."

Willett told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Monday he kept focused and took it "one shot at a time" as it became clear an opportunity to clinch the title was opening up.

"If you're going to win majors or win golf tournaments, you've got to get quite fortunate at the right time, and regardless of what we did, we needed a little bit of help obviously from Jordan and he gave us it," the 28-year-old English golfer said.

Until Spieth's back-nine catastrophe it was Greg Norman who had been linked for two decades with Masters misery.

Each year it seemed a Masters tradition to recall Norman's 1996 debacle when the Australian entered the final round with a six-shot cushion and agonizingly watched it evaporate while a charging Nick Faldo overtook him to snatch a third Green Jacket.

"Jordan spit the bit almost Normanesque like," said Paul Azinger, a major winner and former Ryder Cup captain for the United States.

While Norman's Masters dream endured a slow death, Spieth's demise was brutal in its speed and ferocity.

In 50 pulsating minutes, the 22-year-old Texan saw what looked like an inevitable coronation turn into a death march, the day ending with a dejected Spieth trudging up the 18th fairway in the Georgia twilight knowing he let Masters history slip through his fingers.

Firing on all cylinders, Spieth stormed into the turn on the back of four consecutive birdies to build a five-shot lead.

Jordan Spieth of the United States reacts after finishing on the 18th green during the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia.
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But suddenly without warning the wheels fell off Spieth's drive to victory. A bogey at 10, another at 11 and then the knockout punch, a quadruple bogey at the par-three 12th where he twice sent balls into Rae's Creek.

"It's a tough one. I knew the lead was five with nine holes to play," said Spieth. "I knew that those two bogeys weren't going to hurt me. But I didn't take that extra deep breath and really focus on my line on 12.

"Instead I went up and I just put a quick swing on it.

"That hole for whatever reason just has people's number."

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this story.