Hoffman's huge opening-round Masters lead gone

Posted April 08, 2017

For 12 rough months, Jordan Spieth's supporters looked forward to seeing him put a water-drenched quadruple bogey behind him.

Westwood, three-over after 12 holes, birdied five in a row starting at the par-5 13th for a two-under par 70 that left him third after 18 holes, five adrift of United States leader Charley Hoffman and one back of American William McGirt. He was 3-under when he reached No. 12 Thursday and made a routine par there.

Then he stuffed it to three feet for a tap-in birdie at the par-3 16th, the same hole that he almost aced a year ago in a desperate scramble to recover from his quad at the 12th.

After last year's now infamous collapse, Jordan Spieth has now officially returned to face his arch-nemesis for the first time: The 12th hole at Augusta National.

A similarly wayward drive on the par-five second, which played the easiest hole on the course in 2016, cost Willett another shot and, although he birdied the third and 10th, a bogey on the 11th left him two over par.

Of his 9 on the par 5, he alluded to the fact that everything was different at Augusta National on Thursday because of the hard, swirling wind. "And unfortunately, I still thought of it as a birdie hole today and it really isn't, when you lay up".

His sixth shot was just too hard to do much better than this.

"I didn't take my medicine and hit it about 15 feet right with a club that takes the spin off". He then dropped and hit his fifth over the green. He did birdie the 13th and completed a strong up-and-down from behind the green for par at No. 18.

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To his credit, Spieth spoke candidly about what happened after the round where he incidentally went on to birdie his next holes, just as he did after his major mis-step in last year's final round.

"I was stuck in the 15-is-a-birdie-hole mentality and it kind of bit me a little bit".

As it clung onto the back right of the green to set up a straightforward two-putt, Spieth let slip a half-smile and a "wow" and a huge reception from the relieved stand. I feel like I'm hitting the ball nicely.

On the 530-yard, par-5 15th, named Firethorn, Spieth took a rather aggressive line for his third shot. Spieth is the guy you have to beat, not the guy who beats himself. "But it was nice to make a 3 there and then capture (a birdie) 4 at the next".

"We're still in the tournament", he said, adding, "It looks like something like single digits might win this tournament, and I certainly can post single-digit under par at this point".

"The tough part here (in windy conditions) is that a lot of (the course) is shielded and if you're five yards off, you could be in a very, very bad location".

Well before Hoffman's electrifying round ended, Spieth predicted that even with little wind forecast for Saturday and Sunday, the winning score will be single-digit under par.