Some of the biggest names in golf are back in with a shout at 2015's first major. This Masters is a tournament that will go down in history for a number of reasons, almost all of them good says DW's Jefferson Chase.
Over his first 52 holes of dumbfoundingly-consistent golf, Masters leader Jordan Spieth acquired hordes of new fans. He probably won over a few more on the 17th hole on Saturday by doing something dumb. Faced with a drive that screamed three-wood, Spieth did what any self-respecting hacker would do and whipped out the big dog.
The result: a double bogey that gave Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson a fighting chance.
If there was anything to criticize about Spieth's performance thus far, it was that he sometimes looked robotically good. By cutting his own lead from six to four strokes, he's opened up the potential for Sunday's showdown to be quite dramatic indeed.
Enthusiasm isn't the best advisor on any golf course, and especially not Augusta National. But how can you not like the 21-year-old Spieth for following his gut rather than his head having gotten off to such a huge lead?
And he still “only” needs a 69 to set a new record for lowest winning score at the Masters.
2015 is a vintage year
How good has this edition of the tournament been? You only need to look back at 1997, the year Tiger Woods set the competition record, to see that we're witnessing something special.
In 1997, Tiger Woods was on 15-under after his third round and had built a whopping nine-stroke lead. He probably would have won the tournament if he had played his final round left-handed. If that performance had come now, he would trail Spieth by a shot with Rose and Mickelson a mere three and four shots behind him respectively.
And here's another sign of how things have changed. Woods took home $486,000 (458,000 euros) for his win back then; this year the pockets of the Green Jacket will be lined with a cool $1,620,000 (1,529,000 euros)
A golden era?
There's no reason to believe the standard being set at Augusta is a fluke. Spieth has been touted as the next big thing since finishing second at the event last year. So win or lose, he has arrived as one of golf's big names and an intriguing rival to world number one Rory McIlroy, who many thought might utterly dominate the game.
Throw into the mix popular shot-makers like Mickelson and a host of there-and-thereabouts talents like Rose, and you've got the makings of some fantastic competitions this year and in those to come. The two players would have been comfortably in the lead at this point in any of three previous Masters.
And love him or hate him, golf is simply more interesting with the wayward drives, impossible saves and assortment of hijinks associated with Tiger Woods. His resurgence after being written off by most pundits can only be good for the sport.