At some point, there will be a Masters in which Jordan Spieth does not feature prominently. Just don't bank on ithappening any time soon.
For the fourth year in succession, Spieth is set to be right at the heart of the action on Sunday as Augusta crowns another champion.
In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the young Texan held the lead heading into the final round. That will not be the case this time, with Spieth sitting tied-fourth, two adrift of co-leaders Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
Yet the manner of Spieth'srecovery this week,following a truly horrendous nine on the 15th two days ago, and his remarkable record of never finishing lower than secondat Augusta means he is surely the man to beat. And one thing is for sure, belief will not be a problem for the world's No. 6 player.
In any circumstances, Spieth would have deserved praise for challenging this week, given the mental test he faced after last year'stitle defense fell apart in scarcely believable fashion with a seven at the short 12th.
However, he has not only bounced back from that setback, but also overcome the small matter ofanother woefulquadruple-bogey on Thursday, which saw him shoot 75 and end the opening day 10 off the pace.
Faced with a huge deficit, Spieth's response has been stunning;his mastery of the course'sfiendish greens again evident.
A round of 69 on Friday got him back to level par for the tournament, birdies at the 13th, 16th and 18th providing crucial momentum ahead of the weekend.
Then, as the likes of Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy initially threatened to be the ones to emerge from a star-studded chasing pack on Saturday, only to fall away after promising starts, it was Spieth who made one of the biggest moves.
After five opening pars, a 44-footputt for a twoat the sixth kick-starteda run of three gains in four holes that finished with a tap-in birdie on the ninth.
The 23-year-old's stunning scrambling skills —a major factor in his continued success at Augusta —again came to the fore at the start of the back nine as he salvaged unlikely pars at 10 and 12 to avoid any loss of momentum.
There were certainly moments of good fortune. Spieth enjoyed a favorable bounce with his second to the long eighth, was lucky not to be in bigger trouble after leaking his drive right on 10 and also came perilously close to the water with his approach to 11.
Yet any player with the character to bounce back from a first-round nine is surely deserving of a break or two and there was nothing lucky about the two subsequent birdies, at 13 and 15,that movedSpieth to within one of the lead amid increasing excitement from the packed galleries.
A rare error in judgment with the putter saw one of those shots given back at 16, but that did little to take the shine off a fine day's work.
Spieth now has the chance to complete the most astonishing of comebacks. After watching Saturday's third round unfold, you would not bet against it.