Saturday, April 11, 2015

The 2015 Masters---Round Two "In the Books" Jordan Spieth's Still on Fire

So far, Jordan Spieth has been........Masterful.

After Jordan Spieth's first round score of 64, what does one do for an encore? How about firing a bogey-free 66 early in the day and leave the rest of the field wondering "who is this guy?"  Spieth has now gone 36 holes with only one bogey on his cards.  His -14 under par for the first two rounds is a Major record, (Jordan Spieth's 130 thru 36 holes is a new record at the Masters and ties the record for all majors).
"I've been kind of on my game and feeling really good about coming to a place that I love, that everybody loves," Spieth said. "It's special to be in the tournament, let alone out front."
"On his game" is an understatement:
In his last three starts, Spieth has won the Valspar Championship and finished runner-up in the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open. In his last 11 worldwide starts, he has three wins, two seconds, a third, a fourth and two ties for seventh as he's risen to a career-high No. 4 in the world rankings. 
"You just cannot see this kid not win many, many majors," said Els, playing in his 21st Masters. "I think he is by far the most balanced kid I've seen. … He's got that little tenacity to him and he's really got a fighting spirit, and he's the nicest kid in the world. So I just love playing with him. I played with him last week and we had a ball.
"He's a special kid."  (link)

And, barring a total meltdown*, there's just a few golfers left in the field who can catch him.

So, who’s got a shot at catching the hottest player in the game?  My prediction: if Spieth shoots either a 68 or a 69 today, (Saturday),----NOBODY.  Even if he post two 72’s over the weekend, some one’s got to shoot much lower.  

#68 World-ranked Charley Hoffmann has the best chance at -9 under, just five shots back.

Other than Hoffmann, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey---all seven shots back at -7 have an outside chance, but Jordan Spieth will have to falter.  Even if Spieth shoots par, the rest of the these guys MUST shoot 3-4 under par to have a shot at him on Sunday.  

Phil Mickelson (at -6 under) and two-time Masters’ winner is eight shots back heading into the weekend and could contend, but he’s got to shoot something around 64 to get back into the race.

Ernie Els (-5 under par), and the rest of the field are just too far back.  Making up nine shots over two rounds is nearly impossible, and that would be just to tie Spieth’s -14 under.

* Ah yes, there have been "meltdowns":  Can Spieth have a Greg Norman breakdown, (final round 78 in the 1996 Masters)?  Or, a Dustin Johnson meltdown, (shooting a final round 82 in the 2010 U.S Open at Pebble)?  Or even a Rory McIlroy disaster, (shooting a final round 80 in the 2011 Masters)?

Anything is possible, and meltdowns do occur.  But in Spieth's case, I just don't see it happening.  If he keeps his focus today and breaks par, it's his Masters to win-----or lose.


Addendum:  Tiger Woods says in his interview that “maybe the committee will tighten up the golf course tomorrow, (with pin placements and dryer greens), to make it tougher”.  

So, Tiger thinks the course has been too easy?  This coming from some one who’s shot a 73, 69 and only two strokes under par.  But, you can’t compare this scenario to Tiger’s game, right?  Then, let's take a look at the top 20 golfers in the world and see how they feel about "this easy course": 

   1    Rory McIlroy    71-71 -2 under par            
   2    Henrik Stenson  73-73 +2 over par   
   3    Bubba Watson    71-71 -2 under par            
   4    Jordan Spieth      64-66  -14 under par      
   5    Jason Day      67-74 -3 under par          
   6    Adam Scott    72-69 -3 under par           
   7    Dustin Johnson   70-67 -7 under par        
   8    Jim Furyk    74-73 (missed cut)            
   9    Sergio Garcia   68-74  -2 under par         
  10    Jimmy Walker   73-72 +1 over par          
  11    Justin Rose   67-70 -7 under par           
  12    J.B. Holmes    76-71 (missed cut)          
  13    Rickie Fowler  73-72 +1 over par          
  14    Martin Kaymer  76-75 (missed cut)          
  15    Patrick Reed     70-72  -2 under par        
  16    Matt Kuchar      72-74  +2 over par        
  17    Hideki Matsuyama   71-70  -3 under par     
  18    Billy Horschel     70-78 (missed cut)      
  19    Brooks Koepka       N/A     
  20    Victor Dubuisson    74-75 (missed cut)

  #44  Paul Casey   69-68  -7 under par
  #63  Charley Hoffman  67-68  -9 under par

  UNRANKED  Mark O'Meara*  73-68  -3 under par

Yes, there are a few here who are having a "fair to good" Masters.  But where would they be if the course was "tightened up" as Tiger suggest?  

* Mark O’Meara:   Now 58 years old, O’Meara spent nearly 200 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking from their debut in 1986 to 2000. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2014 and will be inducted in July 2015.

(this article may have some additional information and edits)


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