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NEWS: Spieth Takes Early Lumps But Remains In The Mix

Jordan Spieth (Photo: Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Jordan Spieth stood on Augusta National’s third tee late Friday morning, having become his own buzzkill with a double bogey, bogey start that cost him the lead he had built with an opening 66 a day earlier.

Two bad tee shots – both hit off the toe, one flaring far to the right, the other snap-hooking left at No. 2 – had created the damage and Spieth was in need of a golf tourniquet.

Spieth looked at his caddie, Michael Greller, and said, “Look, when this course plays tough, I’m good for a double here or some bogeys there. Let’s make these the only ones.   

“He was really good at saying, ‘Man, you always take punches out here and come back stronger.’ ”

It unfolded swiftly. In a matter of two holes, Rory McIlroy, playing one group ahead of Spieth, had gone from four behind to tied with the 2015 champion.

The double at No. 1 looked like the way a member’s guest might play the hole. Spieth missed his tee shot deep into the right trees and was unable to get his second shot back to the fairway. His third rolled back off the front of the green and he took three from there, sending a murmur through the gallery.

WATCH: Spieth Makes Double Bogey at No. 1

At the par-5 second, Spieth’s hooked hammered a tree, leaving him in trouble again. That’s when he did an un-Spieth like thing. He hurried and made a poor decision.

He tried to pound a 4-iron out of fluffy pine straw with little follow through instead of playing a big roping hook with his 3-wood. He hit another tree and wound up making a bogey because he took three from the front edge again.

Spieth looked down the third fairway with a simple thought:

“This is an easy tee shot. You can’t screw this one up.”

He aimed left toward a distant television tower with the intention of hitting a fade toward a second tower. Spieth hit the fairway, made a par and a crisis was forestalled.

Spieth still made the turn at 4-over par for the day and set another simple goal: Play the back nine in 2-under par. He did it, making birdies on both par-5s, and though a second-round 74 didn’t fit with his first-round score, Spieth kept himself in the mix for the weekend at 4-under par.

WATCH: Spieth’s First Birdie in Second Round Comes at 13

Among the things Spieth has developed through four previous Masters is, as his caddie alluded to, an ability to take a punch from Augusta National. The course landed a haymaker in 2016 but Spieth pointed to the way he played 1-under-par golf after his tournament-crushing quadruple bogey at the 12th that year.

“Good starts are really nice out here. Bad starts are tough to come back from,” Spieth said.

“So what’s the first couple holes on a Friday start mean? It doesn’t really mean much to me. It means let’s figure out what was wrong and fix it, but it’s not going to affect the outcome of this tournament off of those two holes. I’m still in a great position.”


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