The Master’s 2016: Counting chickens when you’re still but a chick

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DPB’s intrepid golf analyst checks in with some high- and low-lights from Augusta…with hope renewed that his first ace is still 50 years down the road. 

By Justin Broglio

I starting writing about sports in college. I’d fill in everyone so often for the sports editor of the University of Idaho Argonaut and I’d cover everything from the local semipro football team to the school’s golf squad.

While golf was always my go-to, the semipro team is what taught me the most.

They weren’t flashy and they rarely won—but they didn’t care. Every player had a story and they were all there, every Saturday, because they simply loved the sport of football. It was always about the game and the effort.

Jordan Spieth didn’t win yesterday, by now you know that.

Some say he counted his chickens or did what ever other idiom you can come up with for tailoring a green jacket in his size before the 18th. Some say he couldn’t handle the pressure—calling in his coach Sunday morning and adjusting everything to fix nothing. ESPN’s subtle headline genius even went so far as to say it was the “most shocking” loss in golf history.

And some, like me, say well kid that’s golf and it doesn’t care who you are or what record you are chasing.

After bogeys on 10 and 11 and a crushing quadruple-bogey 7 on the 12th, where he lost the lead after putting two in Rae’s Creek, Jordan was out and Danny Willett was in.

The 28-year-old Englishman almost opted-out of this week. His wife was pregnant with the baby due on Sunday, April 10th. But his son arrived two weeks early and Willett flew in late Monday and was the last player in the 89-man field to sign in.

More about Willett later.

When it was all said and done, Spieth, like the beaten and bruised players of the Palouse Thunder football team used to, walked off the field and congratulated the opponent. And he did it with composure and sportsmanship, knowing that people—that young golfers who look up to him—were watching.

He sat and listened to Jim Nance and Billy Payne discuss the fate of the day, praising Willett’s five-under-par 67 for the day, and 72-hole total of a five-under 283, and he put the jacket on Willett and he shook his hand.

Because that’s what you do.

Because it’s always about the game and the effort.

Willett said of Spieth after the round, “He’s a class act to be able to hold face as he did, obviously hurting like I imagine he would be. It just shows the character of the guy.”

Even the Twitterverse took notice (as they do), contrasting Spieth’s solid composure at Butler Cabin while awarding Willet his first green jacket to Cam Newtons tantrum after loosing the Super Bowl. So much so that Cam’s name began trending again, along with #nationalsiblingday—which in case you were wondering is not federally recognized, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this.

Back to Willett, who was ranked 12th in the world going in to yesterday’s final.

He is now the first Englishman to win the Master’s since Nick Faldo in 1996 and the first European since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.

He’s shot a flawless final round. With birdies on 6, 8, 13, 14 and 16.

He deserved the win and hopefully he will be remembered as more than the guy who won the year Spieth lost.

Other highlights from yesterday:

• Watching 58-year-old Benard Langer play a stellar round. Seeing a guy name Smiley learn the game alongside the best. Three holes-in-one on the 16th—all awesome!

Sergio’s putting, the Frenchman, and the unbelievable short games!

See ya next year!

justinIIJustin Broglio is former President of the Sierra Avalanche Center. He is a father (of two!), a husband, a backcountry skier and communications officer for the DRI in Reno. He has has never taken his three iron out.

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