The following piece originally published on April 11, 2016.
JORDAN SPIETH WAS HARRY HOUDINI at Augusta National Golf Club, but even he couldn't escape two balls in the water at No. 12, the world's most famous par-3 hole, a watery grave for so many on their quest for a Green Jacket. And it will happen again. You can be sure of it.
Spieth made the turn in 32 after four straight birdies. He had a five-shot lead with nine holes to play. But after two bogeys and two poor swings on the 12th, the centerpiece of Amen Corner, there was no "amen" for Jordan, only the worst kind of misery in major championship golf.
"Buddy, it feels like we're collapsing," the 22-year-old defending champion said to his caddie, Michael Greller.
From Friday on, it looked as if Spieth's game was held together with bailing wire, duct tape, super glue and unspoken prayers. His tempo was off, he was fidgety and he was missing both left and right, but mostly right.
Yet his immaculate short game saved him again and again, and, as one person commented, he putted like God himself. That Spieth could lead the Masters by five strokes after 63 holes seemed like a miracle. Bogeys at 10 and 11 cut the margin, but the gutty Texan was still in control as he strolled to the 155-yard 12th, where the shot was a stock 9-iron, he later said.
My last thought before that fateful swing on the 12th tee was this: "Whatever you do, don't hit it in the water!"
Inexplicable as it seemed late on Sunday afternoon, Jordan Spieth had finally put himself in a position from which he couldn't escape. His putting could not save him this time. It could not undo the transgression of aiming at a right-hand pin on 12 when you have the Masters lead. As much as the golf gods had smiled on young Spieth, they had to be frowning at that play.
Up ahead, Englishman Danny Willett was playing the golf of his life while Spieth was drowning in Rae's Creek. The world No. 12 player birdied 13, 14 and 16. His par save at 17 displayed nerves of steel and a textbook par at 18 completed a 67, the best round of the day. Willett had done everything necessary to give himself a chance at a Green Jacket. It was a stellar performance.
So, did Jordan Spieth give away the Masters or did Danny Willett win it?
That's an easy one for me. Both.