When the final round of the Masters Tournament gets underway on Sunday the best guess is that any of the top 13 players have a realistic chance to win. It is rare for a Masters winner to come from outside the top-10 in the final round and, counting ties, there are 13 players who fit the bill.
By far the most engaging and intriguing story on Sunday will be 20-year old Jordan Spieth. Co-leader of the tournament with Bubba Watson at five under, the young Texan burst onto the scene at the U.S. Open in 2012 at Olympic Club in San Francisco. He got to the event when there was a last-minute withdrawal, and garnered honors as the low amateur at seven over par. He became even more famous last July when he holed out from the sand on the final hole of the John Deere Open to tie for the lead, then win the playoff to qualify for the British Open and hop on a private jet for England just hours after his final putt. Perhaps more importantly, that win earned him an invitation to the 2014 Masters Tournament.
Spieth is not at Augusta National for the experience, although if he should fail to win on Sunday he will take it. It is evident from the look in his eyes and the words that he speaks that he thinks he can win. He said after his round on Saturday that his comfort level was “very high,” adding that he had confidence that if he put his ball in the right places he could get the ball up and down. Will it be difficult to win because of his age and inexperience? He says the key will be playing the golf course, and not playing against Bubba Watson or playing on the big stage of Augusta National. He says he’ll play knowing that “if I shoot a couple under, it should be good enough.” The last player to win the Masters on their first try was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
It will certainly be interesting to see where Bubba Watson’s game, and his head, will be on Masters Tournament Sunday. On Saturday, he did not play his greatest golf. On the other hand, he did not lose the lead. Watson’s performance in the final round will probably depend on how he looks back at his third round. He knocked in a tough five-footer for par on the last hole, and that might have given him something good to think about when he falls asleep Saturday night.
If momentum is the key to victory Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and Miguel Angel Jimenez should be the favorites. Kuchar shot four under 68 on Saturday and is just one shot behind the leaders at four under. The 50-year-old Spaniard Jimenez shot the best round of the tournament with a 66 and is in third place, two shots behind. Fowler is with him in third after carding a 67. Justin Rose picked up some momentum with a 69 and must make up four strokes on Sunday.
It would not be a Sunday at the Masters Tournament without Fred Couples. At 54-years old he sits at one under par, tied for tenth place and just four shots from the lead. The winner in 1992, he knows what it takes to get to the green jacket. It will be interesting and entertaining to watch and see if his body can hold up for one more fantastic final round at Augusta National.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky