Jordan Spieth said during an interview on the Golf Channel this week there was advantage to already being a Masters champion, and he proved that in the first round yesterday, Thursday, April 7, with a first round 66 on the windy Augusta Golf Course. He said during a press conference there was just a good feeling about having already won on the fabled course that adds to one’s confidence. The Dallas, Texas native’s turned that feeling into reality as he was the only player in the tournament to avoid a bogey in the first round, despite less than ideal playing conditions.
His brilliant first round performance left him at six under par and two strokes ahead of Danny Lee and Shane Lowry who left the final hole tied for second. The other men who comprise the Big 3 of the current golf world were further back, which is a good sign for Spieth who graduated from Jesuit High School before leading the University of Texas to a national championship. Rory McIlroy shot a good round with a two under par round, leaving him tied for ninth, four strokes back of the American. Jason Day, currently ranked No. 1 in the world finished at even par and six strokes behind the former Longhorn.
But it was deja vu for Spieth who led the first round of the 2015 Masters en route to victory. He led the entire 72 holes of last year’s tournament. Can he do that again? It would be an incredible accomplishment, but Spieth’s short career is already filled with extraordinary achievements so it wouldn’t be a shock if he pulled it off a second time. Other big names Justin Rose and Paul Casey were tied for fourth at three under par following the first day’s action.
What was Spieth’s reaction to his first round? “I’m just very pleased with it, I put it up there with one of the best rounds I’ve played,” he said, according to the New York Times. Spieth, still only 22, played as if he didn’t know the meaning of the word pressure.
The Texas wunderkind produced six birdies after he set a Masters record with 28 birdies in 2015. Spieth expressed surprise at people who said he’d been “struggling” coming into this tournament. He said, “I feel like my game’s been trending in the right direction; I just haven’t gotten scores out of how I felt I’d been playing.”
Spieth, who said this week he wore his champion’s green jacket while having a cookout with his best friends after the 2015 victory, further said he didn’t want to have to hand it over to someone else this year. After the first round, it looks like he may be able to keep wearing it.
“I didn’t wear it around Dallas much, but I have worn it on several occasions,” he said during this week’s press conference. He presented an award at the American Country Music Awards last year while wearing the coveted green jacket.
Spieth did have to overcome a certain amount of adversity to lead the pack Thursday. He cracked the face of his driver on the eve of the tournament, and he had to find an adequate backup club to use when he started playing for keeps. He also had to overcome a wide right drive on the first hole which left him in a dangerous situation. But he was able to salvage a par, and his Masters mentor Ben Crenshaw thought that had to be a confidence booster.
Spieth’s putter got hot at the right time as he birdied the third hole from 6 feet, and the sixth hole from 12 feet away. He further found a birdie on the eighth by sinking a critical four-foot putt and another on the 10th hole from 10 feet away. He climaxed his big day with yet another birdie on the 18th hole from a distance of four feet.
Ominous weather is forecast to be approaching America’s most prestigious golf course this week which could make it more difficult for Spieth’s challengers to catch him. Spieth may well be on his way to yet another historic Masters triumph in 2016.