After finishing runner-up at the Masters in 2014, Jordan Spieth is now the prohibitive favorite to don a green jacket in 2015 – this after his nearly-record-setting performance at Augusta National on Thursday.
“Jordan Spieth is so solid, and he’s just 21 – which makes it just unbelievable that he shot a dazzling 8-under-64,” CBS Sports radio and television personality Ann Liguori said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game. He’s very consistent. He’s so composed for his age.”
Spieth had the best opening-round score at the Masters in 19 years. He had nine birdies overall and finished with a three-shot lead over Charley Hoffman, Justin Rose, Ernie Els and Jason Day.
“His only blemish was a bogey on the 15th,” Liguori said, “and at that point, perhaps he was thinking about tying the record.”
That would be the course record for the lowest one-round score. Nick Price and Greg Norman shot a 63 in 1986 and 1996, respectively.
“(Spieth) said he and his caddy were too protective of their lead, and he hit a hybrid instead of a 4-iron,” Liguori said. “But either way, an 8-under 64 (is) so impressive. He said it was the first time he’s ever shot under 70 here in Augusta.”
Then again, this is only his second time playing at Augusta.
“He has game,” Liguori said. “He won a tournament in Tampa, the Valspar Championship. He’s been second twice this season. Coming into this tournament, he was very, very sharp. I’m not surprised at all that he’s leading the tournament.”
Amy Lawrence, for one, enjoys watching Spieth in press conferences almost as much as she enjoys watching him golf. He just seems so poised, so composed, so even-keel.
“Absolutely,” Liguori said. “He’s just very steady, very calm, very composed for his age. He thought he got a little excited out there today. I think he was kind of looking at his personality and his mood today and he thought, ‘I just have to be a little more relaxed (Friday).’ And gosh, if he relaxes more, you have to wonder what he’s going to do (Friday). But he loves this golf course. He learned a lot from coming in second last year.”
While the 21-year-old Spieth stole the spotlight Thursday, Els – who is playing in his 21st Masters – wasn’t far behind.
“You want to see him do well,” Liguori said. “He’s such a nice person. He shot a 5-under 67. He was really solid. He had the lead for a little bit before Justin Spieth grabbed a share of the lead and then passed him there. But it’s funny. He said as of yesterday, he had changed shafts on his clubs. He went a little lighter because he was getting older and he wanted a lighter shaft, which is funny. He is 45, but it just goes to show you. His last win was the British Open in 2012, so it’s been a couple years. But obviously the guy can still play.”