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2015 Masters: Results, highlights, final leaderboard and more from a record setting week at Augusta National

There's no better event in golf than the Masters, and the 2015 edition was one of the best we've had in many years.

The 2015 Masters had it all. Jordan Spieth, the coming-of-age talent shattering records at just 21 years old and matching Tiger Woods' overall 18-under scoring record. There was Tiger's return to the game. We didn't even know if the four-time Masters winner could chip a golf ball and play competitively anymore, but he surged into the top 10 and looked nothing like the embarrassing wreck from earlier in the week.

Tiger ignited the crowd on Saturday and was firing darts in a way we had not seen in several years. It led to a juicy Tiger-Rory McIlroy Sunday tee time at Augusta. And they weren't the only big names playing late in the day and chasing Spieth. There was three-time winner Phil Mickelson finding his form after missing the Masters cut last year for the first time since 1997. Mickelson and the Augusta crowds have a longstanding love affair, and he made an array of bomb putts, hole-outs, and wild approaches to charge at Spieth throughout the weekend.

But Spieth outclassed all those superstars and at 21 with a green jacket and a pocketful of Masters records, he now joins that major championship company.

2015 Masters Background

The Masters is the most important and coveted major championship in golf. It has a relatively short history compared to some of the other majors, but the course, club, and tournament founded and created by Bobby Jones and friends has ascended to the most prestigious in the game. Some of that may be self-important hype and the upholding and imposing of their traditions. But whatever was done to cultivate the Masters and make it what it is today worked.

There are a few players from across the pond that would tell you they most want an Open Championship on their resume. But a near-unanimous majority of professionals, if they could choose, all want a Masters title. I asked Rickie Fowler, who has just one career PGA Tour win, quickly and simply which tournament on the annual schedule he'd want to win most -- and without hesitation, he said he wanted a green jacket. That's the prompt response you'd get from almost every person who plays golf for a living.

That the Masters is the only non-rortating major in golf certainly helps its status as the most important event of the year. The players, patrons, and viewers know exactly what to expect because of all those traditions we hear about each and every year. We know the course. We know the history. We have the memories of who did what and where and how over the years. The perks of winning are incomparable, and that was in full this week when Arnold Palmer sheepishly discussed just how emotional he got during Tuesday's Champions Dinner. That annual tradition gets plenty of pre-tourney hype, but Palmer said it had grown a bit stale and boring. Well something happened in the room this week, and he marveled at how he thought the entire event now has new life. He felt compelled to talk to the younger champions through tears about the importance of the dinner and all that comes with those lifetime perks of winning a green jacket.

While it has been a fascinating and eventful preamble off the course this week, the on-the-course events could make this 2015 Masters one of the best ever. We are certainly set up for it. There's Tiger Woods, returning to the game of golf after his self-imposed hiatus because he could not perform the basic task of chipping a golf ball anymore. Woods' decision to come back at the Masters made many cringe. Augusta has some of the tightest lies and demands some of the most precise chips. That seemed like a bad place to figure out if you could play a round without embarrassing yourself.

But Tiger has looked like a professional golfer all week and we've not seen those same ghastly chunk shots and skulled wedges so far. He's also been jovial and laid back all week -- hugging everyone in sight, joking around with the media, and even bringing his kids out in front of the cameras and playing the Par-3 Contest for the first time in a decade. That may be forced, but it's good to at least have Tiger back after missing 2014 with an injury and we'll undoubtedly be tracking his every movement during the tournament, whether it's two days or four days long.

Aside from Tiger's return, the 2015 edition sets up to be one of the greats because we have world No. 1 Rory McIlroy playing his first opportunity to complete the career grand slam. There are only five players who have done that in the Masters era -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Jack and Tiger have done it three times over. The fourth is always the hardest, and there's a long line of legends, including Palmer and Tom Watson, who couldn't get the last leg. McIlroy is just 25 years old and should have at least 20 more Masters to try and join those elite five above. But given some of his recent shakiness at this venue, and the fact that he won the last two majors played, there's a ton of pressure on him this week to make a run.

Tiger and Rory get much of the hype and will throughout the first few rounds. But there's an ascendant crop of talent on the PGA Tour and internationally right now and they're all fighting for elbow room and a career-defining win. Only McIlroy has lower odds to win than Jordan Spieth, last year's runner-up who is making just his second career start at Augusta. Others like Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, and Sergio Garcia have all looked like the best player in the world over the past 12 months but still need a major championship. This Masters truly feels like a crossroads with Tiger trying to get back in the fight and so many new world class talents joining the battle.

With that background, here are some of nuts and bolts of this 2015 Masters.

The Field

As with everything else, Augusta National has their own approach to building a field. It is significantly smaller than all the other majors, which push out 150 or more players, many of whom are open qualifiers or PGA pros that give lessons as their day job. The Masters, on the other hand, almost never exceeds 100 players. The field has not hit triple digits since the early 1960s and recent threats to break that streak, including this year, had Chairman Billy Payne saying the club may review their exemption process again.

A total of 99 players ended up qualifying for a spot in the Masters but we'll start the tournament with a 97-man field. Tim Clark withdrew last week with a nagging elbow injury. Marc Leishman withdrew the day before the tournament started to be with his wife, who was recovering from an illness that had her near death last week.

There are 19 methods of earning a spot in the field. Certain methods are unique just to the Masters, such as that lifetime invite for former champions and the seven amateur invitations handed out and held up in such esteem as an homage to the founder, Bobby Jones. Amateurs today, of course, are mostly top prospect college players who will be turning pro so it's a different phenomenon even if that Jones ideal is still propagated all around Augusta. This is not an especially strong amateur class, and the rookies are nothing like the group of highly world ranked talents that came to Augusta for the first time last year.

As for former winners with a chance to get another jacket, the class of that group, and maybe the entire field, is the defending champ. Bubba Watson has such a natural advantage here being both a long hitter and lefty. Augusta sets up favorably for a right-to-left ball flight, and so Bubba can just hammer that power fade. He also played well again throughout the first quarter of the year, so he's got some form and rolling into Augusta in much the same way he did last year.

Bubba is one of 19 green jacket winners playing this year. Here's a full field list and breakdown of how each player earned that invite to the 2015 Masters.

The Course

Is there much explanation needed here? What makes the Masters so special is that so many of the holes, pin positions, hazards, and scenery are instantly recognizable. The front nine, which still wasn't permitted by the club to be shown on TV until the mid-90s, is starting to become more familiar terrain.

But it's the back nine that everyone knows and loves. The steep downhill 10th that's been the scene of so many playoff endings. The brutal par-4 11th that doesn't let you come close to aiming at the flag and starts Amen Corner. The 12th, a short little hole that's the most famous par-3 in the world. The 13th, which presents almost every player in the field with an eagle opportunity and a chance to make a move on Sunday. The difficult par-4 14th, which has one of the most extreme putting surfaces on the course. The amazing par-5 and par-3 pairing of the 15th and 16th, where David Feherty and Verne Lundquist bring us home and call so much of the insanity and leaderboard movement that occurs there.

One after another, we know what to expect and have these landmarks from so many Masters past. The course has taken on some water this week, so scores may be low for some of the rounds but you know it will be in perfect condition. Here's a complete hole-by-hole guide to the most recognizable course in America.

First round highlights and results

Rising star Jordan Spieth fired an opening round 8-under, 64 at Augusta to take the lead in just his second Masters. Spieth led by three shots after Thursday's round, ahead of Jason Day, Ernie Els, Charley Hoffman and Justin Rose. Spieth's round of 64 was just one off the tournament course record at Augusta National.

Here are a few other highlights from the opening round:

Arnold Palmer kicked things off at the 2015 Masters with this ceremonial tee shot.

Phil Mickelson eagled the par-5 8th after a laser fairway wood approach from 262 yards.

Tiger pulled off a brilliant and violent looking cut shot around the trees on No. 7.

Jordan Spieth stole the show.

Second round highlights and results

For the second straight round, Spieth finished the day on top of the leaderboard, taking a 5-shot lead into Saturday's third round. Spieth recorded a 6-under 66 on Friday and, in the process, set the 36-hole Masters scoring record at 14-under 130.

Here are a few other highlights from the second round:

Padraig Harrington warmed up Friday with Happy Gilmore swings.

Jim Furyk got an awful bounce off the flagstick at No. 12.

Dustin Johnson set a Masters record with three eagles in a single round.

Ben Crenshaw made an emotional exit from the Masters.

Third round highlights and results

Jordan Spieth stayed strong atop the leaderboard following a third-round 70, pushing him to 16-under for the tournament. Spieth's round on Saturday gave him a 4-shot cushion heading into the final 18. The chasing pack included major champions Justin Rose (12-under), Phil Mickelson (11-under), and a charging Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods (both at 6-under).

Here are a few other highlights from the third round:

The Tiger Woods vs. Sergio Garcia rivalry was renewed, but went off without incident at Augusta.

Tiger Woods caught fire and looked like vintage Tiger at the start of his round.

Tiger let the curses and his club fly after a horribly hooked tee shot on No. 13.

Phil Mickelson calls his shot on an approach to No. 15.

Final round highlights and results

It was the Jordan Spieth show on Sunday as he wrapped up the green jacket without major issue. Spieth was nails when he needed to be. He never really provided an opening for a loaded group of chasers on the first page of the leaderboard.

Here are a few other highlights from the final round:

Spieth ties Tiger's record and wins $1.8 million.

A sweaty Spieth struggles to slide into his new green jacket.

Tiger Woods hurt his wrist, but still finished a solid week at the Masters.

The 11 best things we found Sunday at Augusta.

Leaderboard

The 18-under 270 ties a Masters record perviously thought unreachable. Here are the full results from the rest of the field:

Place Player Score Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Total
1 Jordan Spieth -18 64 66 70 70 270
T2 Phil Mickelson -14 70 68 67 69 274
T2 Justin Rose -14 67 70 67 70 274
4 Rory McIlroy -12 71 71 68 66 276
5 Hideki Matsuyama -11 71 70 70 66 277
T6 Ian Poulter -9 73 72 67 67 279
T6 Paul Casey -9 69 68 74 68 279
T6 Dustin Johnson -9 70 67 73 69 279
T9 Hunter Mahan -8 75 70 68 67 280
T9 Zach Johnson -8 72 72 68 68 280
T9 Charley Hoffman -8 67 68 71 74 280
T12 Rickie Fowler -6 73 72 70 67 282
T12 Ryan Moore -6 74 66 73 69 282
T12 Bill Haas -6 69 71 72 70 282
T12 Kevin Streelman -6 70 70 70 72 282
T12 Kevin Na -6 74 66 70 72 282
T17 Sergio Garcia -5 68 74 71 70 283
T17 Tiger Woods -5 73 69 68 73 283
T19 Henrik Stenson -4 73 73 70 68 284
T19 Louis Oosthuizen -4 72 69 71 72 284
21 Russell Henley -3 68 74 72 71 285
T22 Mark O'Meara -2 73 68 77 68 286
T22 Keegan Bradley -2 71 72 75 68 286
T22 Patrick Reed -2 70 72 74 70 286
T22 Bernd Wiesberger -2 75 70 70 71 286
T22 Angel Cabrera -2 72 69 73 72 286
T22 Ernie Els -2 67 72 75 72 286
T28 Steve Stricker -1 73 73 73 68 287
T28 Morgan Hoffmann -1 73 72 72 70 287
T28 Webb Simpson -1 69 75 72 71 287
T28 Jason Day -1 67 74 71 75 287
T28 Jonas Blixt -1 72 70 70 75 287
T33 Jamie Donaldson E 74 71 76 67 288
T33 Ryan Palmer E 69 74 74 71 288
T33 Chris Kirk E 72 73 72 71 288
T33 Sang-Moon Bae E 74 71 72 71 288
T33 Brooks Koepka E 74 71 71 72 288
T38 Jimmy Walker 1 73 72 74 70 289
T38 Danny Willett 1 71 71 76 71 289
T38 John Senden 1 71 74 72 72 289
T38 Seung-yul Noh 1 70 74 72 73 289
T38 Adam Scott 1 72 69 74 74 289
T38 Bubba Watson 1 71 71 73 74 289
T38 Cameron Tringale 1 71 75 69 74 289
T38 Charl Schwartzel 1 71 70 73 75 289
T46 Matt Kuchar 2 72 74 72 72 290
T46 Lee Westwood 2 73 73 70 74 290
48 Geoff Ogilvy 3 74 70 73 74 291
T49 Anirban Lahiri 4 71 75 74 72 292
T49 Jason Dufner 4 74 71 74 73 292
51 Erik Compton 5 73 72 74 74 293
T52 Darren Clarke 6 74 71 77 72 294
T52 Graeme McDowell 6 71 74 76 73 294
54 Vijay Singh 7 75 70 79 71 295
55 Thongchai Jaidee 9 75 70 80 72 297
Did Not Make Cut
T56 Bernhard Langer 3 73 74
T56 Jim Furyk 3 74 73
T56 Shane Lowry 3 75 72
T56 James Hahn 3 73 74
T56 Mikko Ilonen 3 74 73
T56 Luke Donald 3 75 72
T56 Gary Woodland 3 71 76
T56 Stephen Gallacher 3 71 76
T56 Matt Every 3 73 74
T56 J.B. Holmes 3 76 68
T56 Brandt Snedeker 3 74 73
T67 Ben Martin 4 74 74
T67 Billy Horschel 4 70 78
T67 Branden Grace 4 75 73
T67 Brian Harman 4 76 72
T67 Camilo Villegas 4 72 76
T67 Joost Luiten 4 76 72
T73 Ian Woosnam 5 75 74
T73 Padraig Harrington 5 72 77
T73 Victor Dubuisson 5 74 75
T73 Corey Conners 5 80 69
T77 Sandy Lyle 6 74 76
T77 Byron Meth 6 74 76
T77 Jose Maria Olazabal 6 79 71
T80 Kevin Stadler 7 77 74
T80 Thomas Bjorn 7 72 79
T80 Larry Mize 7 78 73
T80 Brendon Todd 7 80 71
T80 Miguel Jimenez 7 78 73
T80 Antonio Murdaca 7 78 73
T80 Martin Kaymer 7 76 75
T87 Matias Dominguez 8 76 76
T87 Tom Watson 8 71 81
T89 Trevor Immelman 9 76 77
T89 Fred Couples 9 79 74
91 Robert Streb 12 80 76
T92 Scott Harvey 13 76 81
T92 Bradley Neil 13 78 79
T92 Ben Crane 13 79 78
95 Gunn Yang 15 85 74
96 Mike Weir 19 82 81
97 Ben Crenshaw 32 91 85