Jonas Blixt and Jordan Spieth couldn't break 70 all week, but their steady performance was enough for the two Masters rookies to tie for second place in their respective debuts at Augusta National.
Spieth, 20, entered the day as the co-leader alongside Bubba Watson at 5-under, and Blixt, 29, was one shot back at 4-under. They took two different routes to their finish. Spieth recorded four birdies and four bogeys within an 11-hole stretch, while Blixt remained steady with 15 pars.
"I was definitely nervous, but I didn't think it created any tendencies to cause me to hit shots off line," Spieth said. "I embraced it. I enjoyed it. I had a great time out there today. I feel like I'm ready to win. I feel like I'll have more chances, but this is a stinger. I had it in my hands."
"I think I got a little quick," said Blixt, a Swede who played his college golf at Florida State. "I think I had a pretty good mind‑set out there and I really tried to make birdies, but I tried a little bit too hard at times. I don't feel like the moment really got to me, but there was a couple good swings there that were a little quick and just didn't execute it as good as I wanted to."
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The rooks held their own all week -- and especially on a difficult Sunday -- but neither was able to put the necessary pressure on the eventual champ Bubba Watson. For the week, Spieth led the field in greens hit in regulation, and only three players in the field had more birdies than Blixt.
"You know, I think me and Jordan have kind of similar games, and I think that plays into playing well at this golf course," Blixt said.
Rickie Fowler doesn't have much experience on anyone, but this week marked his fourth trip to Augusta. The 25-year-old enjoyed seeing his fellow young guns represent the new age of golfers.
"We're here to play," Fowler said. "Jordan has obviously been playing well and Jonas always finds a way to play well. I know Rory came back and had a good finish too. It's always fun seeing the young guys play well. We don't want to let the older guys get too many wins."
Fowler was rooting for his good friend Watson, one of those older guys, to win on Sunday, but he is looking forward to the challenge that players like Blixt will present for the remainder of their careers.
"[Jonas] has a great short game and a great putter," Fowler said of his fellow Puma representative. "He can obviously go low. He wins tournaments with a lot of birdies. But around here he's able to chip and putt his way around and stay in a lot of rounds. It's good to see him get a good finish. He's a lot of fun to be around."
Ben Crenshaw was instrumental in both players' success. Crenshaw has served as Spieth's personal mentor of sorts in the past year, and Blixt observed the two-time Masters champ during his opening round this week.
"[Crenshaw] is not long enough anymore, but he knows where to miss it and really knows where to chip it from," Blixt said. "I mean, he's still got the short game, which is really impressive and he putts it really well. You learn something new at Augusta National every day, and every pin position is unique. It's a tough test."
Experience wins out at Augusta. Watson said he had several of the same putts Sunday afternoon as he did in his victory in 2011. Now these two former rookies can say the same.
"The only thing I'm thinking about is when I'm getting back next year," Spieth said.
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