Bubba Watson won his second Masters Tournament in the last three years after an impressive showing Sunday, finishing the day three under par and the tournament at eight under par. But in many regards, the 20 year-old Jordan Spieth stole the show and gave a peek into what the future of golf could look like.

Spieth, who ended the tournament at five under and finished Sunday at an even par, ended his collegiate career at the University of Texas early to compete on the PGA Tour. At 19, he won the John Deere Classic, becoming the fourth youngest player to win on the tour in over 80 years. And while few expected such a strong showing from him in Augusta, Ga., his performance was nothing short of spectacular.

After a birdie on the long par-5 second hole and an amazing birdie shot from a bunker on the fourth, Spieth stood alone as the leader early in the day. The rest of his front nine was very up and down, and at one point his alternating birdies and bogeys made it seem as though par no longer existed in his vocabulary. Although some late day struggles set in and Watson was eventually able to seize the momentum, in no way should a Masters’ Sunday collapse take away from the achievements of a player younger than most people reading this article.

When most casual golf fans think about the Masters, or the sport alone, the first name that comes to mind is Tiger Woods. After coming on tour, Woods immediately enjoyed a remarkable amount of success, which is one of the contributing factors to the game’s popularity today. Even while Woods’ fans were not afforded the opportunity to watch the world’s highest-rated golfer play Sunday because of injury, his impact was still certainly felt during the tournament.

The excitement he has provided over the course of his career has influenced a youth movement in the sport, and Spieth is poised to be one of the young players leading the charge. Other notables in the youth movement to continue following throughout the season are the notable Rory McIlroy, who has already won two major tournaments by eight strokes each, Patrick Reed, currently third in the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup standings, and Jason Day, who many saw as the Masters favorite before the tournament began Thursday.

After his loss, Spieth had a message for fans. “I’m hungry,” he said. “That was fun but at the same time it hurts right now. I didn’t come out on top but I can take a lot of positives away.”

The young player may have come up short in his quest for a green jacket Sunday, but all signs point to his being a star in years to come. Spieth was the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, finished last year in the top 10 in earnings, and is currently in the top 10 in world rankings. His discontent with a second-place finish is reminiscent of the aforementioned Woods, and, clearly, the sky is the limit for a player so young, talented and motivated.

Furthermore, based on the opinions of many golf experts, Spieth won’t have to wait long to enjoy success, as he is already one of the favorites to win the upcoming U.S. Open. Another expert claims he is the best young player to come along since Woods — perhaps a bit of a premature declaration, but an endorsement of a promising rising star nonetheless.

As for the rest of the field, the surprising Jonas Blixt tied Spieth for second, Miguel Angel Jimenez held fourth alone and Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar tied for fifth. The high-profile Rory McIlroy finished tied for eighth with even par, while Phil Mickelson, three-time champion, failed to make the weekend cut.

Sunday started with a lot of promise for an exciting finish, especially considering the close field and that the last two Masters tournaments featured playoff finishes. But just when Spieth began to falter, Watson made his push.

The 35-year-old Florida native was in tears again as he won his second major and second green jacket, after relatively cruising to a finish compared to his playoff win on the 10th green two years ago. Watson jumped up the world golf rankings from number 12 to number four and will look to add another major once the U.S. Open moves to Pinehurst, N.C. in June.

 

Matt Castaldo is a junior in the College. This is the final appearance of More than a Game.

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