Golf

Watching Jordan Spieth falter is tough for Smylie Kaufman

BY LEONARD SHAPIRO

Special to the Miami Herald

Smylie Kaufman holds up his ball after putting on the third hole while Jordan Spieth prepares to putt during the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga.
Smylie Kaufman holds up his ball after putting on the third hole while Jordan Spieth prepares to putt during the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. AP

AUGUSTA, GA.—Carter Smylie Kaufman burst into the national golf consciousness Sunday when he played in the final group with Jordan Spieth in the last round of the 80th Masters. He never did get in contention, but also had a front row seat to watch Spieth’s back-nine collapse after opening a five-shot lead over the first nine.

"I was really cheering for Jordan as a buddy, and it’s unfortunate what happened," said Kaufman, who had his own calamity—an 81 that left him tied for 29th—after trailing Spieth by a shot after 54 holes. "It just kind of stunk to watch it, but we both kind of struggled. He played great for that front nine, but it was kind of a weird day for both of us."

Spieth had a quadruple bogey seven at the 12th hole that dropped him out of the lead, and he never recovered. Kaufman said he thought Spieth’s drop after his tee shot at the 12th had rolled back in the pond did not get a particularly good lie. Spieth hit it fat and that ball also splashed.

"You can get some lies out there that just sit kid of funny," Kaufman said. "To me, that’s what probably happened. He probably went down to try to get it and just caught it a little heavy. It happens. It just wasn’t a perfect lie. And what happened, happened."

Despite his own forgettable final day showing, Kaufman said his first Masters has been a great learning experience.

" That was some heat," he said. "Obviously I’ve never felt anything like that before. I think I got into my own head a little bit with the putter. But everything else was awesome. I loved the atmosphere. It’s something I think I’ll thrive in some day. It was cool."

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California Amateur Bryson DeChambeau finished his first Masters in fine style, easily winning low amateur in the field and showing more than enough game to think he’ll be back in Augusta for many years to come.

DeChambeau, tied for 23rd going into the final round, posted even-par 72 that earned him a five-over 293 good for 21st place. The 22-year-old U.S.Amateur champion already has sponsors lined up and will be able to cash their checks when he turns professional this coming week at the Heritage event in Hilton Head on the PGA Tour.

He can look back at the 18th hole as the main reason he was unable to make a Sunday run at becoming the first amateur ever to win a green jacket. He made a triple bogey there on Friday and then a double bogey on Saturday. Pars at those holes would have left him only two behind going into the final 18, but as he said, "that’s golf."

The only other amateur who made the cut among six who started Thursday was Frenchman Romain Langasque, who qualified by winning the British Amateur, He had a wild weekend, posting an 83 in the third round and 68 on Sunday, good for a tie for 39th place. A 15-shot swing? That’s golf, too.

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Winds had calmed a bit for the final round, but that was little consolation to Billy Horschel, who had a bizarre experience Saturday when a gust blew his ball right off the 15th green.

He had a 13-foot uphill birdie putt when he replaced his marker and put his ball down on the green. And then, as he walked around trying to line up his fourth shot, here came the wind. It moved his ball about a foot, just enough to catch a down slope and role back another 30 get into the water.

According to the rules of golf, Horschel had to place his ball from the spot where he had struck his third shot. He then chipped to four feet and made the putt for double bogey.

"I had an uphill putt, you couldn’t ask for anything more," he said. "And the wind just gusted. It’s just an unfortunate situation. I’ll move on from it…It’s bad luck. It’s not the rules official’s fault, it’s not Augusta’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault for that happening."

Still, Horschel was smiling again on Sunday. At the 570-yard No. 8, he laid up on his second shot, then hit a wedge into the cup for an eagle three.

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Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, playing in his 20th Masters and one of three over-50 players in the field, had a Sunday thrill when his 7-iron shot to the 16th green hit above the hole, then trickled all the way back down and rolled into the cup for his first career hole-in-one at Augusta National.

About 30 minutes earlier, Shane Lowry of Ireland aced the same hole with a similar line to the cup. They were only the 16th and 17th holes-in-one there in tournament history. And then came a third, and the most bizarre, at 16. Louis Oosthuizen’s tee shot landed on the green, caromed off playing partner J.B. Holmes ball and veered right into the cup. "Yeah," Oosthuizen said. "That was really sweet."

 

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Augusta National is planning to build a new media center that will open in time for the 2017 tournament, 27 years after the current building replaced an old quonset hut that housed the press corps for many years. One of those who occupied both is long-time author and Golf Digest writer Dan Jenkins, 86, and now covering his 66th Masters.

"I want to come back next year to see the new place," Jenkins told the Augusta Chronicle. "At least make it 67. That might be my last. Who knows…Then again, I was impressed by the old Quonset hut."

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