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Sports

Jordan Spieth crushes the field to claim Masters crown

media Jordan Spieth celebrates with his caddie Michael Greller after winning his first Major at the Masters Reuters/Brian Snyder

American golf fans have a new champion in the shape of Jordan Spieth who won the first Major of the season at the Masters in Augusta.

There's a new kid on the block. And from the way 21-year-old Jordan Spieth dominated the Masters in Augusta, he may very well become the main man of the golf world.

The lad from Dallas in Texas fired a two-under par 70 in Sunday's fourth round to finish on 18-under 270, which matched the 72-hole tournament record set by Tiger Woods in 1997.

"This was arguably the greatest day of my life," Spieth said after donning the winner's Green Jacket. "It's incredible. It's a dream come true."

Spieth was second at the Masters last year behind Bubba Watson and he entered this year's tournament with a win and two second-place finishes from his last three PGA Tour starts.

But he crystallised that consistent form with a brilliant opening round on Thursday of eight under 64 to establish a three-shot lead.

All the more impressive was his calm under pressure. Phil Mickelson, a five-time Major winner and Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open winner, were within touching distance throughout the final day. But their challenge failed to perturb him.

"It was very nerve-wracking," Spieth said. "With two major champions like Mickelson and Rose right behind me, I couldn't let up."

Mickelson and Rose shared second place on 274 after their 72 holes. Mickelson, who has won three times in Augusta, paid tribute to his fellow American. "I played a good solid round but I needed something exceptional. I just didn't quite get it. I just got outplayed. Jordan played great."

Rose was also munficent in defeat. "Every time I thought there was a chink in the armour, he would come up with a big putt."

The pre-tournament hype centred on the fortunes of world number ones. The incumbent - Rory McIlroy - had the chance to become only the sixth man to have won at all four Major venues. The former head honcho, Tiger Woods, is in that pantheon. He maintained that despite his lowly ranking outside the world's top 100 that he could be a contender for his 15th Major.

Tiger effectively roared in the wilderness. He's still big box office but it seems the crowds are there to measure the extent of his demise rather than witness the possible heights of his abilities. The 39-year-old came in 17th. It was his best finish since 2013. He put a brave face on the setback. "Considering where I was ... I'm really proud of it," Woods said.

Spieth, who will jump from fourth to second in the world rankings, became the second-youngest winner in Masters history. He is five months older than Woods when he won his first Major in 1997.

While Woods might pip him in that accolade, Spieth has eclipsed his compatriot by becoming only the fifth man to lead from start to finish in Masters history, joining Craig Wood in 1941, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Ray Floyd in 1976.

"It was awfully impressive," McIlroy said of Spieth's performance. How McIlroy responds to the coming man in the next Major will be one of the intrigues of the US Open in June. And how will Spieth operate as a marked man? He describes the best part of his own game with typical understatement: playing badly well.

Some commentators would hail the talent as course management, while others might point to his coolness in the heat of competition. Both are crucial for success at the highest level in golf. Woods's era of dominance exploded into life at Augusta. The world of golf - and American fans especially - will hope that history is about to repeat itself.

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