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Jordan Spieth’s Masters collapse ends a wild weekend at Augusta

Don’t put a check mark in the win column until the last putt drops is the most important lesson we learned from the 2016 Masters that will be remembered for Jordan Spieth’s meltdown.

Jordan Spieth was seven holes away from wrapping up an historic second straight wire-to-wire win at the Masters on Sunday when he arrived at Augusta’s par-3 12th. Spieth had sailed over Rae’s Creek earlier in the week, racking up two pars and a birdie on one of golf’s most iconic holes, which can be as treacherous as it is lovely.

Surely, those in the golf world believed as one, it was just a matter of an hour or so before young Jordan would complete his tour of Amen Corner and collect his second green jacket.

True, Spieth had whittled his own lead down from five shots through nine holes to three with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11, but the shock heard ‘round Augusta came when he splashed first his tee shot and then his third strike into the brook. When he slumped away with a quadruple-bogey 7 and down three to eventual winner Danny Willett, patrons and TV viewers were as shocked as he was.

Which is when the words of the late, great Yogi Berra came up, reminding us of the cruelest lesson in sport and of any learned last week at Augusta National Golf Club: It ain’t over till it’s over.

There were others, for sure, though none so indelibly etched into our collective psyche as Spieth’s unimaginable collapse so close to becoming a momentous part of Masters lore.

The golf gods giveth and they taketh away. Billy Horschel — the victim of a cruel rule that cost him a stroke when Mother Nature blew his ball off the 15th green and into the water — can attest to that.

BillyHo got one back when he holed out for eagle on the par-5 eighth during Sunday’s finale.

Oh no! Was Brandel Chamblee right? Rory McIlroy entered the week looking to complete the career grand slam, a feat he failed to accomplish in 2015. Looking fit and robust in shirts and sweaters spray-painted on to his buff body, the four-time major winner of two PGA Championships, a U.S. and a British Open can boom it out there with the Bubba Watsons and Dustin Johnsons of the world (see: Sunday’s tee shot to the green on the par-4 third).

rory drive

Trouble is, even with his new, vaunted left-hand-low putting stroke, he can’t get the damn ball in the friggin’ hole.

Time after time, in Saturday’s much-hyped heavyweight bout between him and Spieth that fizzled into barely a backyard scrap, the defending champ miraculously escaped from serious trouble somewhere off the fairway and then putted the eyes out of the ball. McIlroy had accuracy issues of his own but could never mount a challenge thanks to his stone-cold hands.

What shootout, where? Speaking of which, will we never learn to stop pumping up these phony head-to-head match-ups between would-be-but-really-just-aren’t rivals?

The showdown between the winners of four of the past eight majors and the second- and third-ranked players in the world, which began with Spieth up by one, both in the final pairing of the third round, and ended with Rory down by five, had about as much firepower as a wet cherry bomb.

Don't fumble the handoff. Perhaps it makes sense for last year's winner to practice slipping that green jacket over the shoulders of the new champ. Because this botched blazer bestowal had three-base error written all over it.

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Watch Ernie Els' putting disaster from six feet out

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