Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Spieth takes Route 66 to the top at Augusta

Spieth takes Route 66 to the top at Augusta

He trails leader Patrick Reed by six shots at the halfway point of the Masters.

"There was plenty of a gap", said Mickelson, explaining his fateful second shot on No. 9.

From Americans such as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler to worldwide stars like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, golf is in a good place to experience another upsurge in popularity.

An opening round 69 has helped Rory McIlroy into tied fourth at The Masters. And Spieth, in the mix for another green jacket. He seems content just being able to play without pain, for however long that lasts. Justin Thomas matched Johnson's minus three.

It's a daunting task, outlasting all of those boldfaced stars, but when has Patrick Reed backed down from a challenge? I'm going to do the same thing I've been doing. "I need to stick to my game plan".

The best strategy for Reed may be to not look back at those chasing him, and he has the confidence in his game to get the job done at Augusta National.

"I don't have to go out there and make a birdie on every hole, especially not on this golf course, and in these conditions, pars are okay", McIlroy said.

Makes you wonder how bland it was during the old black-and-white TV days. The challenge here is already vast, trying to land shots in a three-yard window on firm, speedy greens, but the issues could be compounded Saturday by heavy rain and 30-mph gusts.

"We're not here to lay up", Leishman said. The last 12 US Masters winners have all been inside the top-ten after round one and the only players to win from outside the top-ten since Mark O'Meara won from tied 25th and five strokes adrift 20 years ago, are Augusta specialists, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Noone has ever shot four rounds in the 60s at The Masters.

While it hasn't shown this week, the Masters will likely be Woods' best shot at winning another major championship, something he hasn't done since hobbling to a playoff victory at the 2008 U.S. Open.

From the practice range to the 18th green, Augusta fans made him more than welcome, although his one-over par 73 gave them few real opportunities to cheer. The Australian carded a very impressive 67 for the day, taking is overall score to -7, meaning it's only Reed who sits above him in the leaderboard. The margin for error was razor-thin - any shot that doesn't carry the front edge rolls back into the creek, and a ball racing over the green leaves a tricky up-and-down - but his shot was flawless.

The ball narrowly cleared the mound at the front of the green, caught the slope and settled 6 feet away for an eagle. I try and win tournaments.

Sharma, who had rough opening day with eight bogeys and three birdies for a 77, was still unable to hole makeable putts and finding the greens hard to read. Probably won't happen. But as he said following his fifth place finish at last month's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, "If I can play with no pain and I can feel I can make golf swings, I'll figure it out".

Despite leading nearby Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010-11, Reed hasn't enjoyed the same success at the home of the Masters. Ghim was at 4-over 148 after two rounds.

Bernhard Langer, who played with Finau the past two days, said he "didn't want to see" video footage of Finau's ankle dislocation during a celebration of a hole-in-one at the Par-3 Contest. "I've done all the work".

The big-name major winners behind him understand that it's not always that simple.

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