2016 Masters: A Tale of Two Nines




After three days of high, swirling winds frustrating the best golfers in the world, Mother Nature gave the players a break in the wind for the final round which made it possible for some low scores to be carded on Masters Sunday. There were many storylines prior to the event surrounding the top 3 players in the world. Would Jason Day become the first world number one player to win the Green Jacket since Tiger Woods? Would Jordan Spieth be able to repeat as Masters champion and become just the fourth man to have the Augusta Chairman present the winner with the Green Jacket? Would Rory McIlory become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam? Which of those came true? None.

After the front nine of Sunday’s round, the Spieth storyline seemed a certainty as he closed the front nine with four consecutive birdies to take a commanding 5 stroke lead. Spieth followed up the birdie streak by bogeying 10 and 11 which opened the door a crack for the rest of the contending field. Then the infamous 12th hole, Golden Bell, made its mark yet again. Spieth hit two balls into the water and walked off the hole with a quadruple bogey, 7, on his scorecard. Swinging the door all the way open for the 28-year-old Englishman, Danny Willett, who began the day 3 strokes behind Spieth and was 5 behind after Spieth’s birdie blitz.

 

 

After 63 holes of play Spieth was ahead of Willett by 5 strokes. Willett closed with a 3 under par 33 on the back 9 while Spieth closed with a 5 over par 41. Willett won the event 3 strokes clear of Spieth.

The aftermath of the 12th left too big a hole for Spieth to climb out of and in the end, it was the Willett who slipped on the Green Jacket. When you dig into the two players hole-by-hole averages the story becomes a tale of two nines.

Looking at the front nine hole-by-hole averages for Spieth, Willett and the field. We see Spieth below the field average on every hole but #5 and Willett better than the field on every hole save #2.

 

 

 

Spieth dominated the front nine; playing it at 8 strokes under par. Willett, a solid 3 under par. The field average, 4.2 over par for the tournament.

The back nine hole-by-hole is where Willett won the tournament. Spieth was better than the field on just 4 of the back nine holes where Willet was better on 6/9.
 

 

 Spieth played the back nine at 6 over par for the tournament. Willett an impressive 2 under par. The field came in at an average of 5.5 over for the four rounds. The 8 stroke differential on the back nine between Spieth and Willett was enough for Willett to overcome the front nine dominance by Spieth to win his first career Green Jacket. Just a mere 12 days after his wife gave birth to their first child. Not a bad two weeks if you ask me.

 

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