Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Late Sunday afternoon 22-year-old pro golfing phenom Jordan Spieth was cruising to become the first golfer on the Pro Tour to win the prestigious Masters Tournament for the second straight year since Tiger Woods did it in 2002 and to become the first to win back-to-back titles while holding the lead after every round.

Perhaps what Spieth was not aware of is the old cliché at Augusta National that the Masters Tournament really doesn’t begin until the back nine of the final day.

Spieth admitted when interviewed after the event that he scrapped his game plan and decided to play conservatively and just try to make pars on the final nine holes to protect his five-shot lead he built when he birdied the final four holes of the front nine.

The barrage of birdies must have clouded Spieth’s memory from the day before when he went bogey-double-bogey on the final two holes as his substantial lead melted to just one stroke.

It doesn’t matter what sport one may be participating in, playing not to lose rather than continuing to grind for the victory usually is a death sentence. And Jordan Spieth learned that lesson the hard way Sunday afternoon.

As he headed to Augusta National’s toughest holes called Amen Corner (11, 12 and 13) Spieth went bogey-bogey on holes 10 and 11 after pushing his tee shot badly on both holes, but still was leading eventually winner Danny Willett by three shots.

But then came the disastrous 155-yard, Par-3, No. 12 hole over Rae’s Creek. Spieth elected to cover that distance with his 9-iron but hit it short and it bounced back into the creek. That was two out hitting three. He somehow chunked his penalty shot into the front part of Rae’s Creek. That’s four out hitting five.

Spieth finally landed his shot on dry land—really dry—like into the sand trap behind the green where he was laying five.

He re-grouped and then went up and down from the trap for an unbelievable quadruple-bogey seven, the highest score the two-time major winner has posted in 46 major rounds.

So he now trailed Willett, who was three holes ahead of Spieth, by three strokes. Spieth was five strokes ahead on the 10th tee and three shots behind when he approached the 13th tee box.

The defending Masters champion came back with a birdie on No. 13, hoping for another birdie run. However it was not to be as he bogeyed No. 14, but came back and birdied No. 15.

In the meantime Willett finished the final four holes with three pars and a birdie and Spieth’s flickering hopes dwindled when he took a bogey for the second straight day on No. 17 to insure Willett’s green jacket.

“You dream of these kinds of days and things like that, but for them to happen—it’s mind-boggling,” Willett said to the Associated Press.

Ironically, Willett wasn’t even planning to play in the Masters, because his wife was due to deliver the couple’s first baby on Sunday. But the baby boy (Zach) showed up early enabling his father to fly from England to Augusta and enter the event.

Willett used words like “surreal” to describe the events of the past two weeks—becoming a father and winning the Masters. “I’m not sure which is better, this day or last Tuesday,” he said. “They are very, very close.”

Willett’s first three rounds didn’t set the woods on fire, (70, 74, and 72) but Sunday’s 67 won him the $1.8 million jackpot plus the traditional green jacket.

Spieth tied Britain’s Lee Westwood for second place, three strokes behind Willett as each golfer earned a very respectable $880,000.

KWICKIES…While on the subject of last weekend’s Masters Tournament an unprecedented three holes-in-one were made on the Par. 3, No. 16 hole. Shane Lowry started the parade, followed by veteran tour pro Davis Love III with Louis Oosthuizen’s ball bumping the shot hit by J.B. Holmes and caroming into the hole for his unusual ace. Holmes replaced his ball as is called for in the Rules of Golf and proceeded to make a birdie.

The Houston Astros returned home after their less-than-mediocre six-game road trip in which they won only two games, thanks to faulty starting pitching. Rookie Tyler White, shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder/DH Preston Tucker have all gotten off to fast starts with the bat while the bullpen already suffers from being overworked thanks to the weak starting pitching. Houston is hosting the World champion Kansas City Royals in a four-game series at Minute Maid Park that began on Monday.

The Denver Broncos let another of their Super Bowl-winning players go when they traded left tackle Ryan Clady to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick in this month’s upcoming draft and a seventh rounder. Clady missed 30 of the Broncos last 48 games over the past three seasons.

The NCAA announced Friday it was barring football coaches from participating in camps on other campuses, siding with the Southeastern Conference in its high-profile dispute with Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and others holding so-called satellite camps. Division I schools are to conduct camps and clinics at their school’s facilities or at facilities regularly used for practice or competition. The change was effective immediately.

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, a former Lufkin Hudson and Texas Longhorn standout baseball player, agreed Saturday to a $72.8 million, five-year contract that will run from 2017-2021.

Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s baseball team remained in the thick of the District 24-4A race thanks to a sterling mound effort by Mitchell Lee, who blanked Hamshire-Fannett 2-0 last weekend with a one-hit shutout. Lee used his strikeout pitch to quell any potential Longhorn uprisings, whiffing nine in the process. The Battlin’ Bears improved to 3-4 while the Longhorns have yet to win a district game in seven tries.

The Lamar Lady Cardinal softball team moved into sole possession of second place in the Southland Conference standings after sweeping Southeastern Louisiana in a three-game series last weekend. The Lady Cards blanked the Lady Lions 4-0 Friday and then took a doubleheader from them Saturday by scores of 10-6 and 6-3. Lamar sits two games behind conference-leading McNeese State with an 11-4 SLC record. The Lady Cards are 24-14 for the season.

JUST BETWEEN US…The never-say-die Lamar Cardinals baseball team overcame two six-run deficits to dismantle Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 15-12 Sunday to sweep the three-game series. The win not only clinched the Big Red’s fourth-straight weekend sweep, but it also extended the nation’s longest active win streak to 15 games. The sweep upped the Cards’ record to 10-2 in the Southland Conference and 25-7 overall. Lamar swings back into action today against the Baylor Bears.