SPIETH EASY; Defending Champ Jordan Carries on Where He Left off Last Year and Leaves Rivals Rory and Jason in His Wake

The Mirror (London, England), April 8, 2016 | Go to article overview

SPIETH EASY; Defending Champ Jordan Carries on Where He Left off Last Year and Leaves Rivals Rory and Jason in His Wake


Byline: NEIL McLEMAN in Augusta

JORDAN SPIETH made more Masters history yesterday as he became the first defending champion to lead after the opening round since Jack Nicklaus.

The world No.2 smashed a slew of records when he won the Green Jacket last year after leading wire to wire on only his second appearance.

And in the first round of his defence, the 22-year-old American continued where he left off with a bogey-free 66 in blustery conditions to take a two-shot lead from Kiwi Danny Lee and Ireland's Shane Lowry.

There is a strong European presence on the leaderboard with Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Danny Willett all in contention. World No.3 McIlroy, who is seeking to make his own history by completing his career Grand Slam here, teed off in the last group as Spieth was finishing his round.

He moved within two shots of the lead after 15 holes before carding a 70 to sit four strokes back. World No.1 Jason Day was five-under par at the turn to move within a shot of Spieth but commemorated the 20th anniversary of Greg Norman's 1996 Masters meltdown by falling apart on the back nine.

The US PGA champion three-putted the 10th and 15th before hitting his tee shot at the par-three 16th on his way to a triple bogey.

But the day belonged to Spieth who benefitted from the calmer earlier conditions and soft greens after overnight rain as he hit eight of 14 fairways, 12 of 18 greens and needed only 25 putts.

He becomes the first player to lead after five consecutive rounds here since Arnold Palmer achieved the feat six times in 1960-61. Nicklaus led after 18 holes in 1966 as he became the first man to ever retain the title. Spieth is already in prime position to join the Golden Bear, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods on a select list of players who have won back-toback Green Jackets.

If he wasn't before a shot was hit, he is now the man to beat. Spieth, who opened with a 64 last year, said: "In my opinon, this round was better than my opening round last year even though it was two shots higher because of the wind.

"It is one of the better rounds I have ever shot. I didn't feel I had good control with my irons but I put a couple of good ones on it and the ones I did miss were in areas I was able to make par. …

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