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Who out there can catch Jordan Spieth at the Masters?

Jordan Spieth started Friday’s second round of the Masters tournament with a three-stroke lead.
Jordan Spieth started Friday’s second round of the Masters tournament with a three-stroke lead. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Is there anybody out there who can catch Jordan Spieth?

History says no. When Raymond Floyd started the 1976 Masters with rounds of 65 and 66 (the tournament’s 36-hole record until Spieth broke it Friday), he went on to win by eight strokes over Ben Crenshaw. Floyd won $40,000, incidentally (this year’s champion will earn $1.62 million).

There’s a handful of players bunched behind Spieth (none closer than five strokes, however), who could make a move. Especially if Spieth falters.

Charley Hoffman

Hoffman is 9 under after rounds of 67-68. He ended Friday’s second round with a bogey on No. 18, however. But three consecutive birdies on the back nine allowed him to remain (relatively) close to Spieth.

Hoffman was asked if being at 9 under – and five back – after two rounds at the Masters was frustrating.

“It is this year,” Hoffman said. “It’s not any other year.”

Dustin Johnson

Johnson, a Columbia native who played at Coastal Carolina, is another example of how a great round can be overshadowed when the leader is making history. But Johnson made his own history, setting a Masters record with three eagles in one round. His 5-under 67 included eagles on the second, eighth and 15th holes. He’s seven behind Spieth.

The Masters awards two crystal goblets for an eagle. Johnson said he has seven eagles at the Masters (all-time leader Jack Nicklaus has 24).

Justin Rose

Rose knows how to win a major, as evidenced by his U.S. Open victory in 2013. He shot a steady 70 and is 7 under, tied for fourth with Paul Casey.

Kevin Na

Na tied Spieth for the low round of the day with a 66. All that did was keep him 10 strokes behind the leader, however.

“I hit a lot of great shots out there,” said Na, who has been playing with a cold. “I was able to put my ball in position where I could make some putts. I’m still a little under the weather, a little sick, and I need to get some rest, and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Phil Mickelson

Lefty was trudging along at 2 under on the first nine, but got going on the second nine. He was 4 under over the last nine holes to finish with a 68. He’s tied for sixth at 6 under.

Observations

▪ Rory McIlroy’s first try at completing golf’s “career slam” included a terrific second nine Friday. McIlroy, who was 4 over for the day at the turn, shot a 31 on the back nine, including birdies on the 17th and 18th. He’s at 2 under for the tournament.

▪ Keegan Bradley, who wore an all-black outfit Friday, left his matching pair of black shoes in his car. Bradley’s girlfriend, Jillian Stacey, ran back to the car to get the shoes and handed them to him along the first fairway after he teed off. Bradley unlaced the white ones and put on the black Nike shoes, gave Stacey a hug and kiss, then ran up the fairway to hit his second shot.

▪ ESPN’s ratings of Thursday’s Masters first round were the network’s highest since record-setting 2010, with a 2.2 rating that averaged 3.218 million viewers. Charlotte’s 3.5 rating tied for seventh highest nationally.

▪ One day after shooting a 71 and becoming the oldest player to break par at the Masters, Tom Watson shot 81 and missed the cut.

▪ Henrick Stenson’s ball hit a tree on the par-5 15th hole, causing Stenson so much consternation that he snapped his club in half over his knee.

▪ Ben Crenshaw finished his final Masters with a beside-the-point 85. The emotional scene at the 18th green with his family and caddie Carl Jackson was stirring stuff.

▪ Tiger Woods’ 3-under 69 (2 under for the tournament) tied him for 19th.

“I’m 12 back, but there’s not a lot of guys ahead of me,” said Woods. “And with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen, you know.”

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