Former Pro Andy North Handicaps the 2017 Masters Tournament: ‘Jordan Spieth Will Come Back And Play Terrific’
In golf, sometimes the losses are more astounding than the victories. In the 2016 Masters Tournament, reigning champion Jordan Spieth (above) enjoyed a five-stroke lead as he took to the 10th tee in the final round at Augusta National. Seemingly headed for his second straight Masters title at only 22 years old, Spieth imploded with a quadruple bogey on the par-3 12th hole. His lead quickly evaporated, and the door opened for England’s Danny Willett to win his first major championship.
“Every single one of us who’ve ever played professionally has done that at some point in time,” says ESPN golf analyst Andy North, a former pro. “He just happened to do it at the absolute worst time that he could have ever imagined.” Greg Norman’s final-round meltdown at the 1996 Masters was considered the worst in the tournament’s history, until a perfect storm handed that dubious honor to Spieth last year. “He could hit the ball almost anywhere but where he did and maybe still have a chance to win,” North says. “It was disappointing for him, but he handled it very well and I expect that he’ll come back and play terrific there again this year.”
The resilient Spieth is among the top contenders to don the green jacket at the 2017 Masters, with Dustin Johnson (Update: Maybe not?), Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson equally strong challengers.
Conspicuously absent from the list is golf’s biggest draw, Tiger Woods, who might not play in the Masters while he struggles with an ailing back. Woods remains stuck on 14 career major championships, and at age 41, opportunities are dwindling for him to match or surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 career major wins. “He may not have any [opportunities],” North says. “If his body isn’t going to work, he gets to a point where he just can’t keep doing what he’s doing. If he gets healthy, we could see him play another six, seven or eight years, or we may never see him play again. No one knows, and that’s the problem with injuries.”
The Masters, April 6–7, 3/2c, ESPN; April 8, 3/2c, CBS; April 9, 2/1c, CBS