The Niggle: Did Jordan Spieth choke at The Masters?April 13, 2016 Opinion
As the dust settles on the 2016 Masters, the team at NCG look back on one of the most dramatic back-nines in the 80-year history of the tournament.
Did Jordan Spieth choke? With a five-shot lead, he went bogey, bogey, quadruple bogey to fall into the pack as Danny Willett put the finishing touches to a flawless 67.
So did Jordan Spieth choke? Or did Willett win it?
James Savage – Let’s not sit on the fence and say ‘it was a bit of both’.
If he pars 12, he wins the Masters. Yes I know he was rubbish off the tee most off the week but I still think he would have finished on -7 had he not capitulated on 12.
Whatever you say about Spieth’s supposed technical flaws, he’s one of the best in the world from 100 yards so to chunk it into the water with his third can only be explained by a mental malfunction. He choked.
He showed his class by recovering but mis-read his birdie putt on 16 which would have put him within one with two to play. When it missed all the adrenaline was gone and with it, the Green Jacket.
Mark Townsend – I think he had been unravelling to some degree since Friday and the wheels came off in spectacular fashion.
He didn’t choke, he’s led at Augusta for seven straight rounds, he just made a very bad swing and then compounded it by playing a terrible shot from a shot he would definitely never have even contemplated practising from.
He said afterwards he wasn’t focused, should have taken an extra breath and rushed the tee shot a bit.
Dan Murphy – I don’t believe he choked. I do think he had been playing poorly for most of the week and I think, in hindsight, that it was only a matter of time before he threw in a big number.
In fact, I had thought throughout the weekend that it was amazing that none of the many bad tee shots he had hit were leading to worse scores.
Tom Lenton – He didn’t choke, but it was clear he wasn’t playing his best and like Mark said he had been unravelling since Friday.
It is pretty scary to think that was Spieth hitting it poorly and he was leading the tournament from day one up until the back 9 on Sunday.
The only other person who could do that was Tiger. Rory hitting it poorly would probably miss the cut and certainly not contend.
James Broadhurst – I think he did choke.
He was five shots ahead at one point and cruising to victory with four consecutive birdies on the front nine.
To choke is to fail to perform at a crucial point of a game as a result of nervousness. And his shots at the 12th show that he was nervous and just had a mad five minutes where he wasn’t thinking straight.
Yes, his tee shots had been wayward throughout the week but he always found a way to recover.
His second shot at the 12th that went into the water and then the following one which flew into the bunker were signs that nerves had got the better of him and he just choked.
Dan Murphy – Let’s not lose sight of the fact Willett shot a blemish-free 67 in the final round. The only round all week that was lower was Spieth’s in round one. That is sensationally good.
What Willett did was ramp up the pressure on Spieth. Rather than a 72 being good enough, suddenly he needed to shoot 70 just to make a play-off. That put an unbearable strain on his long game and he wasn’t playing well enough to handle it.
Mark Townsend – I actually think that had he been one shot clear playing the 12th he wouldn’t have done that.
Spieth said he got into too defensive a mindset playing the back nine and that he knew the bogeys at 10 and 11 wouldn’t hurt him.
If he had been in a dog fight with Day, Johnson, McIlroy, Willett and Rose etc then I think he would have had more chance of pulling through.
I would say the way Westwood played the 16th was more down to nerves than anything Spieth did.