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Spieth running away with the Masters after setting new 36-hole record

After his superb first-day performance, Jordan Spieth continued his charge for the Masters title with second round 66.

Texan Jordan Spieth is in fine form.
Texan Jordan Spieth is in fine form.

Updated at 20.00

JORDAN SPIETH COMPLETED the greatest 36-hole start in Masters history this evening, firing a six-under par 66 at Augusta National to match the lowest 36-hole start in any major.

The 21-year-old American reached the clubhouse on 14-under 130 after two rounds, his bogey-free Friday putting him four strokes ahead of compatriot Charley Hoffman with four-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa a distant third, nine strokes adrift.

Spieth, seeking his first major title after a runner-up Masters debut last year, opened with a 64 Thursday to become the youngest first-round leader in Masters history, only one stroke off the record low round in the Masters or any major.

Fourth-ranked Spieth broke the prior Masters 36-hole low of 13-under 131 set by Ray Floyd in 1976 and threatened the low 36-hole total in major history of 130.

Spieth missed a seven-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole and settled for becoming the fourth player to fire 130 at any major over the first two rounds.

The 130 mark was set by England’s Nick Faldo with a 66-64 start to the 1992 British Open at Muirfield, matched by American Brandt Snedeker in the 2002 British Open at Lytham and equaled last year by Martin Kaymer with back-to-back 65s at the US Open at Pinehurst.

The manner in which the flamboyant, fist-pumping Spieth was solving Augusta National looked in many ways like Woods when he won his first major title at the 1997 Masters, surging ahead by a record nine strokes after 54 holes to eventually win by 12.

While 14-time major winner Woods, who has sunk to 111th in the world rankings, was finding modest success in his comeback after a two-month layoff to work on his game, Spieth was dominating as 39-year-old Woods did in younger days.

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Woods would remain the youngest Masters champion from 1997 by about five months even if Spieth wins this year.

Masters Golf Woods reacting to a shot yesterday. Source: Charlie Riedel

Spieth has been the hottest player in golf over the past month, winning his second US PGA title in March at the Valspar Championship and finishing second at the Texas Open and Houston Open in the past two weeks.

Before green jacket fittings start, however, Spieth needs to close out the victory, something he could not do last year after leading Sunday on the front nine.

That gives hope to rivals like world number one Rory McIlroy, who was set to begin his round after an opening 71 that suddenly had him 12 shots adrift.

McIlroy seeks his third consecutive major title, which would complete a career Grand Slam. The Ulsterman is on par for the round and one under for the tournament after three holes.

Woods, meanwhile, was three under for the round and two under for the tournament with two holes remaining.

Woods has not won a Masters since 2005, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and has not won any title since the 2013 WGC at Firestone.

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Originally published at 16.21

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