AUGUSTA, US: Jordan Spieth completed the greatest 36-hole start in Masters history on Friday (Saturday in Manila), firing a six-under par 66 at Augusta National that matched him for the lowest halfway total in any major.
The 21-year-old American stood on 14-under 130 after two rounds, a bogey-free day giving Spieth a Masters midpoint record-matching five-stroke lead over compatriot Charley Hoffman.
“Any time you can set a record here is pretty awesome,” Spieth said. “I’m really excited about how I played.”
Fourth-ranked Spieth broke the Masters 36-hole low of 13-under 131 set by Ray Floyd in 1976 and nearly broke the low two-round major start of 130.
Spieth missed a seven-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole that would have put him on 129, settling for par to join the 130 group that includes England’s Nick Faldo from the 1992 British Open at Muirfield, American Brandt Snedeker from the 2002 British Open at Lytham and German Martin Kaymer at the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst.
“Didn’t know what any of these scores meant in history or anything like that,” Spieth said.
Spieth, seeking his first major title after a runner-up Masters debut last year, shared the biggest 36-hole lead mark with Floyd in 1976, Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and Herman Keiser in 1946, after Hoffman closed a round of 68 with his lone bogey.
Spieth pitched from 50 feet to inches from the cup to set up a birdie at the par-five second, sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the fifth and birdied eight after finding a fairway bunker. Spieth made an 18-foot birdie putt at 10 and sank eight-footers for birdie at the par-5 13th and 15th.
Spieth’s 36-hole domination, with 15 birdies against one bogey, evoked memories of Tiger Woods’ record-setting 1997 Masters romp for his first major title. Woods will remain the youngest Masters champion by about five months even if Spieth wins this year.
“There’s a pretty big separation right there,” Woods said. “He has played beautifully.”
Johnson fired a 67 that included a Masters one-round record of three eagles, coming at the second, eighth and 15th par-five holes.
World number one Rory McIlroy and Woods, a 14-time major champion back after a two-month layoff to work on his game, were on 142, sharing 19th and 12 adrift.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done, to be able to dig it out the way I have,” Woods said after shooting 69.