When I watched the golfing film ‘Tin Cup’ for the first time, I thought the ending was ridiculous. Typically clueless Hollywood sentimentality. No professional golfer in real life would ever be foolish enough to throw away a Major at the death in such stubbornly slipshod fashion. That was until I watched life imitate Hollywood at Carnoustie in 1999 where Jean Van de Velde did his best Oscar-worthy imitation of Kevin Kostner in nonchalantly blowing a 3-shot lead at the 18th hole by recklessly finding the water (more than once) to lose the Open. After that, I had to hold my hands up and admit that golf was a game that sent tough, intelligent, resilient men doolally.
But I could not have believed it of Jordan Spieth. I still can’t believe it. Yes, we all know Amen Corner has been the destroyer of many a golfing dream, but of all the golfers you would have expected to tiptoe over the tripwire and deftly dodge the bullets, it would have been the calm, composed, rational, master scrambler Spieth. Yes, he may have come out of it a little bruised, a little battered; but he’s been bruised and battered all tournament and still managed to come out – if not exactly smiling – grimly hanging on to first place. Perhaps battling the elements and his driver the previous two rounds had taken it out of him. Added to that the burden of winning from the front, surely the most difficult way to win in sport. Anyhow, the sublime Spieth machine was abruptly wrecked at the notorious 12th hole by the treacherous water in front of the green (twice) and then the bunker at the back of the green, and it was game over.
Ironically, Jordan’s extraordinary meltdown made for a tense, gripping and, almost unbelievable, finale to the Masters that far surpassed any Hollywood film for drama. And no Hollywood screenwriter would have been hardhearted enough to add a final, cruel plot twist whereby the vanquished Jordan Spieth, as defending champion, had the gut-wrenching duty of handing over his coveted Green Jacket – that should have, and a merely two hours before would have, been, round his own shoulders – to his exalted conqueror Danny Willett.
Golf is a savage game and fate a fickle mistress. But, in the same vein as ‘Tin Cup’, the 2016 Masters will always be remembered for Jordan’s 12th.