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Power And Promise

by Brian Hewitt

In the end it was Bubba Watson’s unrelenting and withering length that simply ground Jordan Spieth down in the final pairing on a sparkling Sunday down among the Georgia pines.

The year’s first major will be remembered, among other things, as a cautionary tale told to Masters rookies who fly too close to the sun:

Knowledge at Augusta National is power. Experience is money.

That having been said – and Watson’s second Masters victory rightly appreciated – the 20-year-old Spieth was the player you couldn’t take your eyes off all week long.

It was his first competitive appearance at golf’s most storied venue where only one player in the modern era – Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 – had won on his first try. Yet for a few brief shining moments in the final round Spieth’s lead on Watson swelled to three shots after he holed a bunker shot for birdie at the difficult fourth.

Watson answered seconds later with a birdie putt on the same hole and when two-shot swings on the eighth and ninth both went his way, the rest was anticlimax.

If Watson is almost savant-like in the way he defies conventional quantification and qualification, the precocious Spieth simply possesses an extraordinarily high golf IQ.

It isn’t about guile. It isn’t about power. It isn’t about a miraculous short game. And he doesn’t always hit the perfect shot. Nobody – not even Tiger in 2000 – ever did.

But Spieth possesses an advanced intelligence quotient for playing the game – instinctively choosing the proper shot at the proper time. Sussing what a golf course gives and what it forbids.

That he got caught this time in the swirling vortex of the Masters rookie learning curve isn’t likely to keep him down for long.

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