Spieth, 20, enjoys the ride at Augusta National

Posted: April 15, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Jordan Spieth realizes that he probably didn't look as if he was having fun Sunday on the back nine at the Masters as he fruitlessly tried to catch Bubba Watson.

But at 20 years old, and playing the Masters with a chance to win in his first time competing, you know he was having a blast.

"Whether my face showed it or not on the back nine, I was really enjoying myself and taking it all in," Spieth said after tying for second as a Masters rookie. "Certain shots, you want it so bad and so hard right when you strike it, and you know it's a little off-line. But when you walked up to each green, the standing ovation coming down the back nine is a feeling I won't forget."

Spieth began the day tied with Watson for the lead. He was 2 shots in front after a birdie at No. 7, his fourth of the round. But bogeys at the eighth and ninth holes led to a swing of 4 strokes, and he wasn't able to put any pressure on Watson after a water-induced bogey at No. 12.

So, instead of becoming the youngest Masters champion ever, and the first rookie since 1979 to win a green jacket, Spieth leaves with some good memories that will kick in when the initial hurt goes away.

"I had it in my hands and just didn't quite make the putts, and that's what it came down to," he said. "But ultimately, I'm very happy with the week, happy with the way my game is at going forward, and I've accomplished one of my goals this year, which is to get in contention in a major and see how I can do."

McIlroy's best finish

After becoming the 51st and final contestant to make the 36-hole cut Friday, Rory McIlroy played well enough on the weekend to record his best finish in the Masters - a tie for eighth place.

Spurred by three consecutive birdies from the seventh through the ninth holes, McIlroy closed with a 3-under-par 69 and a par 288 for 72 holes.

McIlroy said that he was disappointed to have played the par 5s at Augusta National in even par, and that he didn't putt up to his expectations.

"It's been a frustrating week because I felt from tee to green, I played as good as the leaders," the two-time major champion said.

Another lost chance

Matt Kuchar appeared ready to put some heat on the leaders when he birdied two of his first three holes Sunday. But a four-putt double bogey at the fourth hole blunted his momentum, and he wasn't a factor from that point on.

"I think I've hit some pretty good shots, and all of a sudden I walk off with a double bogey," said Kuchar, who shot a 74 and finished tied for fifth. "But I swallowed that pretty quick and said, 'That's OK, I'm even par through four holes.' "

Kuchar managed only one more birdie, although he grabbed a top-10 finish here for the third year in a row.

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