AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth already was the hottest player on the PGA Tour.
He kept right on going at the Masters.
The 21-year-old Texan turned in a brilliant opening round at Augusta National, challenging the major championship scoring record on the way to an 8-under 64 on Thursday.
Spieth birdied eight of the first 14 holes, his shots so precise that he often had nothing more than tap-ins with the putter. He rolled in a 6-footer at the 12th, a 2-footer at the 13th, then nearly holed out from behind a tree along the 14th fairway, the ball striking the flagstick before settling about 2 feet away for another easy birdie.
He went to the par-5 15th with a shot at the scoring record for any major, which is 63. But he picked the wrong club and muscled his second shot through the green, leading to his only bogey.
Spieth finished with a flourish, rolling in a 20-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
“Eight under here is nothing to complain about,” Spieth said. “Just in the zone and hitting some shots. I saw the scoreboard and tried to make a push.”
Then there’s Tiger Woods, returning to competitive golf for the first time since he walked off the course at Torrey Pines in early February, saying he needed to improve his game before he played again.
Woods clearly improved during the time away, but doesn’t yet seem capable of making a serious run at his 15th major championship. He struggled to a 73, leaving him nine shots behind Spieth going to Friday and more concerned with making the cut than contending for the lead.
There was a wild tee shot at No. 9 that wound in the adjacent first fairway, followed by a shot into the pine trees that prompted Woods to swing his club in anger — a flash of his notorious temper. He was cursing himself again at the picturesque 12th, where he dunked his ball in Rae’s Creek and took another bogey.
Thumbnail photo via Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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