The United States International and World number 13, emphasised his status as Augusta National’s latest beloved son with a brilliant 66 to lead while Rory McIlroy,nobly survived his horrible first round draw to shoot 70 under the watchful eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson.
World No 1 Jason Day played two nines that were like night and day, as he blitzed the front nine in 31 shots and bombed on the back nine with 41.Irishman Shane Lowry played beautifully for a 68 and second place while 20 years after the last British victory, an astonishing total of six Englishmen broke par.Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter all shot 69, Danny Willett 70 and Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood rounds of 71.And then, at the other end of a vast spectrum, there was poor Ernie Els, victim of the most devastating attack of the yips imaginable on the opening hole. Spieth followed up his record-shattering victory by opening his defence with a sensational round that positively screamed: catch me if you can.No player aged 22 or younger has successfully defended a major in the last 90 years but the remarkable Texan took an impressive opening stride with the only bogey-free round all day.
“i was very impressed, it was absolutely flawless,’ said playing partner Casey. ‘I played a wonderful round of golf but it was an honour to have a front row seat to enjoy that”.In the build-up to this Masters, Spieth had talked about how hard he found it to relinquish the green jacket. On this day, we discovered just how much he wants to take it back.
His good shots were wonderful but his recovery shots positively took the breath away. Seve Ballesteros and Mickelson are generally thought to have the greatest short games of all time, but Spieth came up with a couple of par saves on the 4th and 16th holes for which either would have been proud.It allowed him to post the lovely symmetrical score of six pars and three birdies on each side of the course.That would have good on any day but on this one, with the course protected by testing, capricious breezes, it was a terrific effort.”I would have signed for a two under par score and not even gone out to play if someone had offered me that at the start,’ said Spieth.Some of my ball striking was not great but I am extremely pleased with my score. I’ve said all year I haven’t got enough out of my rounds but this was probably the opposite. I definitely feel like I stole a few”.
On the eve of this Masters, Spieth cracked the face of his driver and had to use a replacement. It mattered not a jot when placed alongside the restoration of trust in his wand of a putter.That’s nine rounds Spieth has played at Augusta and he’s still to shoot anything worse than a level par 72. He’s a preposterous combined total of 29 under par. World No 1 Jason Day was clearly not deterred, blitzing the front nine to reach the turn in just 31 shots, before bogeying the 10th.
Casey did his best to keep up as he found accompanying Spieth inside the ropes an inspiring proposition rather than an intimidating one.Some of his shotmaking was right out of the top drawer, most notably on the two par threes where Spieth missed the target wildly and made his otherworldly saves. The Englishman, by contrast, had two virtual tap-in birdies, such was the quality of his tee shots.Day looked as if he would do so before a calamitous bogey, triple bogey, bogey run from the 15th that may prove fatal regarding his chances.That triple came just as McIlroy rolled in an eagle putt at the 13th to make his move but two bogeys in the last three holes hurt, including one at the 18th where his approach finished in a plugged lie.