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Johnson: Spieth no stranger to Augusta's pressure
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Masters Leaderboard (after Thursday’s round):
1. J. Spieth -8; T2. C. Hoffman -5; T2. J. Rose -5; T2. E. Els -5; T2. J. Day -5; T6. R. Henley -4; T6. S. Garcia -4; Notables: T12. P. Mickelson -2; T41. T. Woods +1.

“I believe in fate. Fate has dictated another championship here, as it has done so many times” – Ben Crenshaw, after the 1995 Masters.

Ben Crenshaw believes in ‘fate’ at Augusta National.

Twenty years after his ‘fate’ won an improbable second green jacket, his fellow Texan and protégé now has that fate swinging his way in what is Crenshaw’s 44th and final Masters tournament.
Jordan Spieth ran away to near historic numbers Thursday as the 21-year-old carded an 8-under 64, three shots ahead of the rest of the 97-player field.

“It’s one of the better rounds I’ve ever played,” Spieth said after his round. “When you’re getting good breaks, the easiest thing to do is just laugh them off. The hardest thing to do is to grind and take advantage of them.”

Spieth thought that he hit his 8-iron too far on the par-3 12th, but it landed on the green. His next putt caught the lip of the hole after he started walking toward an apparent miss. It fell into the bottom of the cup for birdie.

Two holes later on par-4 14th, standing under tree limbs and staring 182 yards to the hole, Spieth ripped a 7-iron.

“I was just trying to make par at that point. I just wanted to carry the ridge and when it did, I looked down and just heard the crazy roar and then the sigh at the end of the roar,” Spieth said. “So I figured it had hit the pin and ended up pretty good. That was a nice break.”

He went on to make birdie, one of nine on the day.

Spieth is no stranger to the Augusta pressure that he’s now faced with as the front-runner. He slept on the 54-hole lead in 2014, his first Masters tournament.

“It is tough to kind of bring expectations down and just have a free flow out there, but we did a good job of it today. I’m going to try and take the same mental attitude into the next couple days,” he said.

Sitting at 8-under par through 14 holes, Spieth had golf history in his sights. Nick Price and Greg Norman hold the Masters tournament round record of 63, and a round of 62 has never been achieved in the history of major championship golf.

But on the par-5 15th, a wayward second shot, chunked chip and a three-putt on the treacherous green led to Spieth’s only bogey of the day.

“I wasn’t aware what the course record was here, let alone that it actually would have been the lowest round in major championship history. So that’s a little frustrating, because I took a hybrid instead of a 4-iron out on 15,” Spieth shrugged.

“But I’m certainly okay with the day … I’ll take three more of them.”

Three more days. 54 more holes. With a long way to go, Spieth sits in the driver’s seat on the road to his green jacket dream.

“This is the most special place in golf, and it’s my favorite place in the world. But it’s early right now, and I’m trying not to think about anything other than getting back on No. 1 (Friday) and trying to shoot a good score.”

If fate stays with him, he’ll be just fine.

Vince Johnson is covering his 7th Masters tournament. You can follow his coverage on Twitter @vincejohnson.

 

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