After 14 holes of his first round in the US Masters Jordan Spieth was on track to becoming the first player to record a round of 62 strokes in a major championship. It was Tiger Woods who was supposed to have the chipping yips but world number one Rory McIlroy duffed three chips while Tiger was impeccable from just off the green. Five birdies in succession on the back nine put Jason Day right in the mix to win the first major of the season.
Woods won the first of his four Masters in1997 aged 21. Spieth is the same age but six months older than the four times champion at Augusta was when he first wore the green jacket. The current blue eyed boy of American would be the second youngest Masters champion if he gets the job done on Sunday. On current form Spieth looks in great shape to take the first of several majors he will win during his career.
There have been fourteen rounds of 63 in major championships but the current world number four was not aware he could have made sporting history. He was focused on picking up one more birdie in his final four holes not to record the major’s low score but to stay as far ahead of the field as possible. A bogey at 15 made a 62 unlikely but a birdie at the 18th meant Spieth played the first round of this year’s Masters in eight under.
The Texan has been putting superbly on the PGA Tour this season, so well that he has finished first and second twice in his last three tournaments. He won twice before Christmas and tied for second in his Masters debut last year. In theory the length of Augusta should put pressure on his driving but the rest of his game was so good relatively short tee shots were not a disadvantage. He seems mentally sharp despite contending for titles in his home state over the last fortnight.
Spieth has a rare maturity for a man of his age and brilliant technique allied to a strong mindset makes him difficult to beat this week. Despite showing signs of his best golf Woods is 9 shots back and struggling now not only to win a fifth Masters but also make the cut. The top 44 players and ties will play over the weekend and the 10 shot rule applies in this major. The cut mark will be about even so Woods will have to break par on Friday to make the cut for the 19th time in his 20 Masters.
McIlroy is 2 shots closer to Spieth and is reasonably happy with his first round score of 71. He showed the class of a major champion to stay in contention when not playing well. He hit three poor chips which is uncharacteristic for such a gifted golfer but some solid putting turned a potential 76 into a score that keeps him in the tournament. McIlroy plays in the middle wave of second round starters while Spieth will have completed 36 holes by lunch time on Friday.
Day tees it up early in the second round and will want to post some birdies to put some heat on Spieth. The overnight leader won’t be intimidated by a move from the Australian who is well positioned to be the second Aussie to win the Masters. Adam Scott won at Augusta two years ago but is now again using the long putter. Some confusion on the greens made for a first round score of even, not a disaster but leaving him along with Woods and McIlroy needing to break 70 to maintain an interest in the tournament that Spieth could dominate over the next three days.