The Masters is basically over, right? The coronation of 21-year-old Jordan Spieth appears inevitable.
On Friday, Spieth matched the record for the largest 36-hole lead in the Masters, becoming the fourth player to take a five-shot lead into the weekend. Herman Keiser, in 1937, Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Raymond Floyd (1976) all went on to victory.
Recent history, however, shows a different trend.
In the last 10 Masters, only two 36-hole leaders converted: Bubba Watson last year and Trevor Immelman in 2008. During that stretch, Chris DiMarco had the largest halfway advantage, a four-shot lead in the rain-delayed 2005 tournament.
In five previous appearances at Augusta National, DiMarco had three top-12 finishes. After a pair of 67s, he was at 10-under, four clear of Thomas Bjorn and six ahead of Tiger Woods. His lead was still four as he played the 10th hole during the third round on Sunday morning, but a double bogey and a Woods birdie flipped the momentum. By the end of the round, Woods led by three.
In a memorable duel, DiMarco and Woods went to a playoff (thanks in part to Tiger’s remarkable chip-in on the 16th). Woods jarred a 15-foot birdie on the first playoff hole to win his fourth green jacket.
The most glaring difference between 2005 and 2015 is the participants. Jordan Spieth is not Chris DiMarco, and Charley Hoffman, Spieth’s closest pursuer, is certainly not Tiger Woods.
After his second round, Spieth said he won’t do any scoreboard watching over the weekend, and he has repeatedly mentioned that his final-round pairing last year with Bubba Watson taught him to be patient. This weekend, Spieth will get the chance to test his newfound patience and determine which side of history he lands on.
Results of the 36-hole leader in the last 10 Masters
2014: Bubba Watson, 3 shot lead, Won
2013: Jason Day, 1 shot lead, 3rd
2012: Fred Couples/Jason Dufner, 1 shot lead, 12th/24th
2011: Rory McIlroy: 2 shot lead, 15th
2010: Ian Poulter/Lee Westwood, 2 shot lead, 10th/2nd
2009: Chad Campbell/Kenny Perry, 1 shot lead, T2/T2
2008: Trevor Immelman, 1 shot lead, Won
2007: Vijay Singh/Brett Wetterich, 1 shot lead, 13th/37th
2006: Chad Campbell, 3 shot lead, T3
2005: Chris DiMarco, 4 shot lead, 2th