Saturday, April 11, 2015

The 2015 Masters---Round One “In The Books”

Records Shmeckords---If Jordan Spieth wants to win this Masters, the best thing he can do is stop listening to and reading headlines about what kind of records are in reach and go right back into his mode of playing each hole like it was the last one of the tournament---one shot at a time.

The way Jordan Spieth “almost flawlessly” played Augusta yesterday should be his template for the next three rounds---stay away from the leader board gazing, the thoughts of breaking records, or putting on a Green Jacket. There’s still 54 holes ahead of him, and field of hungry veterans just 3-5 shots behind him, and waiting for the young upstart to stumble.

Yes, while Spieth flirted with Augusta History yesterday, (carding an impressive 8-under 64), if not for a few fortunate bounces, (including hitting the flagstick on #14 after a wayward tee shot, and snaking in a 15-foot birdie putt on #18), Spieth could have easily given back 2-3 strokes to the field, and the storyline could have been “Spieth negotiates a condition-friendly Augusta to take a one-stroke lead over a field of hungry sharks”.

Let’s face a few facts, Augusta may never be as friendly as it was yesterday, with mostly calm winds, soft receptive greens, and the typical “non-man-eating” pin placements that comes with the first round of the Masters.  While the scoring average was 73.4179 for the entire field, 29 “other golfers” shot under par, (including the ageless wonder Tom Watson, who shot a 71).  And, yes, this course will change each day, and every hole will get a little tougher, the greens will firm up and get slicker, and the pin placements will be screaming “come and get me, if you dare”.  

Not to take anything away from the fabulous round Jordan Spieth recorded in the first round of this Masters---most of his approach shots were spot-on, and his putting was, again, nothing short of spectacular.   But, Jordy needs to go out today and shoot another sub-par round, stay within himself and negotiate the course as if it were Sunday and he’s two shots back.  If Spieth shoots a 72-74 today, the sharks will smell the blood in the water, and the talk about records will fade away like an Augusta sunset.

Historically, the first round leader hasn’t faired well in this tournament.  Fact is, only once in the last 30 years has the winner of the Masters been in the top spot after the first 18 holes, and that was Trevor Immelman in 2008, tied with none other than Justin Rose, both shooting 68’s.  Rose shot a 78 the following day, falling from first to 36th.  Brant Snedeker was just two shots behind Immelman after the third round, but shot a final round 77 to Immelman’s 75, and you guessed it, a final score of Spieth’s current score, 8-under par to win his only Green Jacket---three shots ahead of Tiger Woods.

So you see, Jordy Spieth’s got some hefty work cut out for himself if he plans on writing some Augusta history, and this next round will reveal plenty of “what ifs” and “if only’s”---or in Spieth’s case, (if he continues managing this course like it’s his private playground), the “history” will take care of its self. 

(this story was written after the first round of the Masters, but was not posted until now, 04-11-15)

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