Second day sees Spieth settle into Masters rhythmApril, 2015
Woods draws level with McIlroy but day two belongs to young Texan
The Texan broke Ray Floyd’s 39-year-old record for the lowest total at Augusta National after 36 holes by a single shot, and in doing so became the youngest-ever leader of the Masters at this stage of the event.
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Spieth, who has previously won just two events on the PGA Tour but came into the tournament in fine form, fired a six-under-par 66 and takes a five shot lead over seond-placed Charley Hoffman into the weekend.
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“I’m not going to catch him in two holes,” said Hoffman, playing in just his second Masters but refusing to give up hope of victory. “Jordan’s playing great golf, so sometimes you get in the lead and you maybe change your game a little.
“I just kept my game plan and kept trying to make birdies, and was able to do a pretty good job of that.”
As the American phenom was establshing his lead atop the leaderboard, Northern Ireland’s own golfing giant was struggling to live up to the hype and hopes of an historic ‘Rory Slam’ began to look incresingly unlikely as the afternoon wore on.
‘I’m not going to catch him in two holes’ McIlroy had spoken of how Augusta’s par-5s were his Achilles’ Heel last year, when Bubba Watson triumphed, and the Ulsterman made good on his promise to improve that part of his game by shooting 4-under-par on Augusta’s longer holes, including an eagle on the 13th.
However, four bogeys and a double bogey on the 9th led to a score of 40 on the way out and whispers of a potential missed cut were heard.
Perhaps sensing that any hope of a fourth Major was quickly slipping away, McIlroy upped his game after the turn and recovered to score a second-straight 71, with four birdies and an eagle. This left the world number one tied for 19th place, alongside the man he has just replaced as the face of EA Sports’ golf video game.
That man, Tiger Woods, continued his rebuilding process with an extremely respectable round of 3-under-par. The strong second day for a much-improved Woods left the four-times Masters champion tied alongside McIlroy, long-time nemesis Sergio Garcia and Sheffield’s Danny Willett.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done, to be able to dig out the way I have,” said Woods. “I was at a pretty low moment in my career.
“I’m 12 back, but there’s not a lot of guys ahead of me and with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen.”
2013 Open champion Justin Rose remained Europe’s best hope of success, sitting as he is in third place, although few would now bet against Spieth extending Europe’s 16-year wait for a Masters victory.
Spieth wasn’t the only one setting records on Friday and Dustin Johnson made eagles at Pink Dogwood, Yellow Jasmine and Firethorn, to become the only player to shoot three eagles in a single round at Augusta.
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