One hour and forty-four minutes ahead of the leaders, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson embarked on their final round of the 2023 Masters. What followed was extraordinary.
The duo combined for a best-ball 58, thanks to 17 total birdies, shot the two lowest rounds of the day, and vaulted up the leaderboard into the top five. Phil, participating in the Masters for the first time since spearheading a schism in professional golf, finished T-2 (-8). This marks his first top 20 at Augusta National since 2015 and his first worldwide top five since the 2021 PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, Spieth bogeyed the 72nd hole, resulting in a T-4 finish (-7)—his sixth career top four at Augusta National in 10 appearances. He notched nine birdies in his final round, his fourth career round at the Masters with at least eight birdies (the most in the last 30 years), and completed the week with 21 birdies total.
Courtesy of the Masters Tournament
While both are among the most unpredictable players of the past 20 years, nobody anticipated these extraordinary performances from Mickelson and Spieth. Yet it’s also fitting that they would do something like this.
Over the past 14 months, Phil Mickelson has been golf’s most radioactive figure and has struggled to maintain consistent form since early 2019. His cautious approach to the week shows that he knows many golf fans and fellow players will not overlook his recent actions. After all, he missed last year’s Masters because Augusta National deemed him a distraction. As for Spieth, he’s been more consistent than Mickelson, but he has has been absent from the winner’s circle and continues to search for the elite form he demonstrated earlier in his career.
For these two, however, form doesn’t seem to mean much at Augusta National. Once they drive down Magnolia Lane, what matters is their experience navigating the golf course and their deeply ingrained ability to hit the requisite shots.
In light of their exceptional final rounds, it’s unclear whether we should revise our expectations for Phil and Jordan. Yes, their Sunday rounds were jaw-dropping. But Mickelson hasn’t done anything else of note at major championships or LIV events in the past year, and Spieth has been consistently inconsistent. Until these trends change, I’m not going to build up my expectations for either player.
Even if this week was just a one-off, it was refreshing to get excited about Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth at a major once more. They are two of golf’s most fascinating characters, and for five hours on Sunday, they joined forces for one hell of a show.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.