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Are we watching the next Tiger Woods?

By: Golf Shake | Sat 11 Apr 2015

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

ON A day when Tiger Woods rolled back the years to shoot a 69 that nobody seriously thought he was capable of doing, we may have witnessed the birth of the man who could challenge his record of 14 major victories. And his name is not Rory McIlroy.

Jordan Spieth, the 21-year-old American with the touch of an angel on and around the greens, followed his opening round of 64 with a 66. If anything, his second round at Augusta National was even better than his first in terms of the quality of his golf. His 130 total, a staggering 14 under par, broke the 36-hole scoring record and left Woods calling for the course to be toughened up over the weekend.

Jordan Spieth

You will remember that after Woods won The Masters in 1997, the course was lengthened in an attempt to "Tiger-proof" it. Much the same happened at other courses around the world. Woods was a bomber, a man who hit the ball huge distances - and he is still capable of doing precisely that. Spieth is no such thing. He hits it plenty far enough but he depends on laser-like approaches and a putting touch that is not only reminiscent of Woods at his very best but it might be even better.

When Spieth stands over a 10-foot putt, you just know he is going to hole it. All right, so he missed a couple of that length during the second round, but thank goodness he did as it means he goes into the final two rounds "only" five shots ahead of second-placed Charley Hoffman, who has played well enough in his own right but has been completely overlooked as Spieth aims to tear up the record book. One record he can't break is Tiger's achievement as the youngest winner. But everything else looks on for him.

He will go out in the third round knowing that a pair of 71s will almost certainly be good enough to give him his first major victory. And, quite frankly, if, as expected, the pins are put in more difficult positions and the greens quicken up, what chance does it give anybody of shooting the 64 or 65 required to put some pressure on Spieth's shoulders? Not that he seems to feel pressure. He walked around Augusta like he owns the place, producing one glorious shot after another. Even when he found the wrong position, he was able to summon up miraculous shots to keep his score going.

"I'm going to try and stay in the moment and be patient these last two days and understand that it's going to feel like a whole other tournament," Spieth said. "I need to not focus on anybody else, no scoreboard watching, set a goal and understand that the course is going to be harder".

Can anybody catch him? As good a player as Hoffman is - and make no mistake, he is a very good PGA Tour professional - you really can't see him being able to produce the fireworks required.

However, Dustin Johnson shot a 67 that should have been better and, at seven under, is in a tie for third place with Englishmen Justin Jose and Paul Casey. Johnson recovered from a double-bogey at the first and Rose was three over for his round after four holes before battling back to record a 70. So they know that if they can eliminate the mistakes, they are playing well enough to close in on Spieth. But it is Casey who looks the best bet. After a miserable spell, during which he got divorced, suffered a series of injuries and lost his form, he has a carefree look about him and is swinging the club as well as he did when he was the world's second-ranked player.

Casey will attack Augusta because it is in his nature. The Dustinator will do the same thing, while Rose will methodically plot his way around the course. The final 36 holes will show us whose approach is best. Phil Mickelson is alone of six under, with Ernie Els a shot adrift.

One thing is for sure - there will be no Rory Grand Slam this year. At one point he looked in danger of missing the cut, and it is to his credit that he battled back for a second successive 71 that leaves him on two under par, alongside Woods. He hit only 10 greens in regulation and you don't win any tournament doing that.

"I'll need two phenomenal rounds and Jordan would have to play a couple of average rounds," said McIlroy. "Neither look like they're going to happen, so it's going to be tough."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house as Ben Crenshaw said his farewells to a tournament he has won twice. Sadly, he opened with a horrific round of 91 and followed it with an 85, but The Masters will be a lesser event without him. Among those who missed the cut were JB Holmes, Luke Donald, Victor Dubuisson, Padriag Harrington, Martin Kaymer and Billy Horschel.

Image Credit: Twitter @golftunes

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