In the first round of his defense of the 2015 Masters title, world No. 2 Jordan Spieth was masterful at Augusta National on Thursday, delivering the only bogey-free round of the day with a 6-under 66 to lead by two strokes.
He was impressive down the stretch, always a tough go at Augusta, with a 15-foot par putt on No. 16 and a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to close the round.
It’s been 50 years since the defending champion at Augusta led the following year after the first round – Arnold Palmer did it in 1966. If Spieth continues to hold the lead at the end of Friday, he’ll tie Palmer for another unique record – most consecutive rounds leading play. Palmer did in wire-to-wire in 1960 and the first two rounds of 1961.
The 66 ties Spieth with Jose Maria Olazabal for the best first round by a defending champion. Olazabal shot a 66 in 1995 and wound up finishing tied for 14th.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Spieth’s round was how unremarkable it was. He hit just eight of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens.
“We’re through one round,” Spieth said. “There’s going to be a lot of different changes. There are going to be a lot of different birdies, bogeys and everything in between. We know how to win this golf tournament, and we believe in our process. And if the putts are dropping, then hopefully it goes our way.”
Spieth is attempting to become just the fourth man to win the Masters in back-to-back years, joining Jack Nicklaus (1965-1966), Nick Faldo (1989-1990), and Tiger Woods (2000-2001).