Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Haven’t we seen Jordan Spieth get off and running in the first round of The Masters?
It happened again Thursday in perfect playing conditions at this 82nd gathering at Augusta National.
Spieth put together a run of five straight birdies on the back nine then survived impending disaster at the 18th to shoot a first round 66 that spotted him a two-shot lead.
Back in 2015, Spieth went wire-to-wire after taking the first round lead. In 2016, he led in the first round but met his Waterloo at the 12th hole on Sunday. Then there was Thursday, giving him the lead in three of the last four years.
His day was relatively quiet after seven holes. He was even par, nothing spectacular. Then at the par five eighth he followed up a perfect drive with an even better three-wood that left him just 12-feet for eagle. He canned it and made the turn at two-under.
Spieth held on for pars at 10, 11 and 12 then started his run of five straight with an easy birdie at 13. By the time he walked off the 17th green, he was five-under for the back nine, seven-under for the day.
Then came a tee shot to forget at the 18th. It went so far left he was barely able to get it back into the fairway and he was a staggering 260 yards out for his third. He hit three wood left then hit a sensational chip that allowed him to save bogey, come home with 34 and a round of 66.
“It was damage control at 18. I was fortunate to make a five there,” Spieth said as described his escape from what could have been a double.
Spieth credited having good yardages into the greens. “I was hitting my numbers and that makes a big difference at Augusta National. I made good up-and-downs for pars at 10, 11 and 12.”
Spieth reminded that he was rounding into form over the weekend in Houston. “I put in a lot of work over the past 10 days.”
He was reminded of past performances when he took the first round lead but he was very cautious this time.
“This is Augusta National. I’m not getting ahead of myself.”
Good advice from someone who knows.
A total of 20 players managed to shoot under par in perfect scoring conditions that included little to no wind. Another eight managed to shoot even par 72.
Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar were tied for second with four-under par 68s.
Another seven players were in at 69 including Rory McIlroy. McIlroy birdied both the back nine par fives to get to three-under then relied on his putter and made great par saves at the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to put himself squarely in the hunt to complete the career Grand Slam.
Charley Hoffman, last year’s first round leader (65), is at it again. Hoffman’s 69 put him in the thick of it.
Patrick Reed had his best round ever at Augusta National. He’s in the group of seven with McIlroy at 69.
Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler got into the red-number parade with two-under par 70s.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia won’t repeat. He most likely won’t make the 36-hole cut thanks to an extreme disaster at the par five 15th. After going for the green in two, Garcia’s ball landed on the green but not far enough to keep from rolling back into the water. After taking a drop, he proceed to hit four more balls that hit the green and spun back in the drink. His 12th shot finally found the green and he holed a difficult 12-footer for 13, tying the tournament mark for highest score ever on a single hole. Garcia finished with a nine-over par 81, eight of it on the 15th.