AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Jordan Spieth won the Masters by four shots last year, and he made it seem easy.
He became the first wire-to-wire winner since Raymond Floyd in 1976. Perhaps even more telling was that Spieth was the first Masters champion since Craig Wood in 1941 to never let anyone closer than three shots of his lead after the opening round.
It could have been worse.
Spieth had a three-putt bogey on No. 12, and he missed a short par putt on the 18th hole that would have given him the Masters record. Instead, he tied Tiger Woods (1997) at 18-under 270.
It was a dominant victory, to be sure.
But it still doesn’t make the list of the biggest blowouts in Masters history.
5. CARY MIDDLECOFF: One round was all it took for Middlecoff to build a big lead and coast to his first Masters title.
The story going into the 1955 Masters was Sam Snead and Ben Hogan, who had combined to win the previous four Masters. Middlecoff stole the spotlight in the second round with four straight birdies for a 31 on the front nine, and then an 80-foot eagle putt on the 13th hole that carried him to a 65. It gave him a four-shot lead over Hogan, and that was all Middlecoff needed. He and Hogan each shot 72 in the third round, and Middlecoff stretched his lead to six shots going to the final nine.
Middlecoff won by seven shots, at the time the largest margin of victory at the Masters.
4. SEVE BALLESTEROS: Of the five majors he won, Ballesteros was never more exciting to watch than at the 1980 Masters. So dominant was the 23-year-old Spaniard that he opened with rounds of 66-69-68, and then made three birdies on the front nine Sunday to build a 10-shot lead. All he needed to do was shoot par on the back nine to become the only player in Masters history with all four rounds in the 60s and to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for largest margin of victory.
Ballesteros made bogey on No. 10. He hit into Rae’s creek on No. 12 and made double bogey. He hit into a tributary of Rae’s creek on the 13th and made bogey. Ballesteros steadied himself with a birdie on the 15th and closed with three pars for a 72 to win by six shots.
3. RAYMOND FLOYD: Floyd put a 5-wood into his bag for the 1976 Masters, and it paid off — along with a hot putting week.
Floyd opened with rounds of 65-66 to set the 36-hole record at 131 that stood until Spieth broke it last year. He led by five shots over Nicklaus, the defending champion. Floyd then shot a 70 in the third round as Nicklaus fell back with a 73.
One year after the high drama of Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf, there was no drama at all on the back nine. Floyd played the final 14 holes without a bogey, closed with a 70 and won by eight shots over Ben Crenshaw. Floyd shot 271 to tie Nicklaus’ 72-hole record at the Masters.
2. JACK NICKLAUS: The “Big Three” were in their glory in 1965. Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player had won 12 of the last 22 majors, and one of the three had won a major every year dating to 1958. And in the 1965 Masters, they were tied for the lead going into the final two rounds.
The weekend was a runaway for the Golden Bear, however. Nicklaus shot a 64 in the third round to tie the course record (set 25 years earlier by Lloyd Mangrum). That put him five shots ahead of Player and eight shots clear of Palmer. In the final round, Nicklaus shot a 69 and beat his two biggest rivals by nine shots. Nicklaus shot 271, shattering Ben Hogan’s record by three shots. That’s what led co-founder Bobby Jones to say of Nicklaus, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.”
1. TIGER WOODS: In his first Masters as a professional, Tiger Woods played the opening nine holes in 40. It hardly looked like a Masters for the ages, even when Woods turned it around with a 30 on the back nine to shoot 70. The rest of the week was a display never before seen at Augusta National.
Woods shot a 66 in the second round to take a three-shot lead over Colin Montgomerie going into the weekend. Smashing his driver so far he only had a wedge into some par 5s, Woods followed with a 65 for a nine-shot lead. Montgomerie, who shot 74, said after the round it was not “humanly possible” for Woods to lose. When someone pointed out that Nick Faldo rallied from six down to beat Greg Norman by five shots the previous year, Montgomerie replied, “Faldo is not lying second. And Greg Norman is not Tiger Woods.”
Woods closed with a 69, set the tournament record at 270 and won by 12 shots. It was the largest margin in any major since Willie Smith won by 11 shots in the 1899 U.S. Open.