Jordan Spieth has picked up right where he left off at the Masters.
Spieth, who won in wire-to-wire fashion in 2015, shot a 6-under par 66 to take the first-round lead Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.
It was the fifth consecutive round – dating to the first round last year – that Spieth has finished atop the leader board at Augusta. Arnold Palmer went six consecutive rounds on top in 1960 and ’61.
“I feel like my game’s been trending in the right direction,” said Spieth, which certainly isn’t something the rest of the field wants to hear.
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Spieth’s bogey-free round included six birdies, including the 18th. That helped give him a two-shot lead over Shane Lowry and Danny Lee, who both shot 68s. Another shot back are Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Soren Kjeldsen.
Lee, a New Zealander who was born in South Korea, matched Spieth’s 33 on the back nine. Irishman Lowry had a 31 – five-under – on the front nine.
Lowry said he’s ready to go after Spieth on Friday.
“Going to stand on the first and try to hit it straight and hit it on the green and go from there,” he said. “That’s the way I play golf.”
Jason Day, the world’s No. 1 player who has won two consecutive tournaments, had an eagle on the second hole and appeared to be on target to challenge Spieth throughout the first round. But he was sunk by a triple-bogey after his ball went into the water on the 16th hole.
Three who mattered
Jordan Spieth: First-round leader appears not to know how to play poorly at Augusta National.
Danny Lee: Won Greenbrier Open in 2015 to qualify for Masters. He’s two behind Spieth after shooting a 68.
Jason Day: Had Spieth within shouting distance until a brutal triple-bogey on No. 16.
▪ It rained overnight before the first round, softening up the course enough that it wasn’t that rough in the morning. But as the winds picked up throughout the day, conditions became considerably more challenging.
▪ Day took a triple-bogey on the 16th, while at nearly the same time, Rory McIlroy eagled No. 13. That dropped Day out of the top 10 and moved McIlroy within three shots of Spieth.
▪ Tom Watson, 66, is playing his 43rd and final Masters and could very well make it to the weekend. Watson, a two-time winner at Augusta, shot a 2-over 74. He got lots of love from the galleries all day.
“I’m very grateful to be able to play again at the Masters and have the crowd react that way,” Watson said. “I’ve been around a long time. All these people, they know me. A lot of the kids don’t, but a lot of the older people do.”
▪ Rickie Fowler has yet to win a major tournament and he’s not much closer to doing so after an 8-over 80. His forgettable round included two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey on No. 13, considered the easiest hole on the course.
“It can go either way,” said Fowler. “And it can definitely go the other way, the high number way, a lot easier than it can the low.”
▪ Jim Herman, who qualified for the Masters by winning last week at Houston, chipped in for birdie on the first hole and finished with a 3-over 75. Herman has received more attention than he might have otherwise because of his relationship with presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Herman once worked in the pro shop of a Trump golf course in New Jersey and has also received financial backing from Trump.
“He’s doing what he’s doing with politics now,” Herman said of Trump. “But I know him as the owner of his golf courses. He’s a good friend of mine. I don’t get involved in politics. And I like playing golf with him.”
▪ Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson’s back nine included five bogeys and a double-bogey on the 16th. Watson, who finished with 75, said the wind played havoc with his approach shots all afternoon and there wasn’t much he could do about it.
“There’s no sting,” said Watson. “That’s the short answer. I’m sorry.”
They said it
“I was impressed with everything. That was a flawless round of golf.” – Casey, of playing-partner Spieth.
“Very.” – Fowler, when asked how disappointed he was with his 80.
“I’m super patient. It’s a long week.” – 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott, who shot a 4-over 76.