How do you stop Jordan Spieth?
That’s on the minds of many after the 21-year-old ran through Augusta National Golf Club for the second day in a row Friday, turning a course known for its intimidation into his personal playground.
Spieth carded a bogey-free round of 66 and, in doing so, set a Masters Tournament 36-hole record of 14-under. Raymond Floyd had set the previous record, 13-under through 36, in 1976.
That was 39 years ago, 18 years before Spieth made his way to planet Earth.
Now, it’s the all-time tournament record-holder asking officials to turn up the heat.
“The scoring conditions were there because the greens were soft,” Tiger Woods said Friday after his good-but-not-enough round of 69, the same Tiger Woods who shot that 18-under tournament record as a 21-year-old in 1997.
“I was talking to Thomas Bjorn and (Mark) O’Meara and even Tom Watson earlier today, and we couldn’t believe how slow (the greens) were (Thursday). Again, they were slow (Friday),” Woods said, dropping some names of past champions.
“The balls were spinning back. 5-irons were making ball marks, things like that you don’t normally find here.”
Then, Tiger dropped the haymaker.
“But it’s up to the committee. If they want to make this golf course a little drier, it’s quiet out there, there’s no sub airs going. If they turn the sub airs on, they can suck the moisture out of this thing and get them firm, or they can live with it like it is, and we can go out there and make a bunch of birdies,” Woods said, sitting 12 shots behind Spieth entering Saturday’s play.
The sub air system is a series of pipes sitting beneath the course that sucks moisture from the surface. Through vents around walkways, they sound like a giant hair dryer running under the course.
When Tiger was asked about the 21-year-old threatening to run away with the tourney, and how it compared to his own win in ’97, he went back to the well once more.
“The difference is that he’s separated himself from the rest of the pack. I believe I only had a three-shot lead (after 36 holes),” Woods said, as Speith holds a five-shot lead over Charlie Hoffman entering Saturday. “Again, it’s up to what the committee does overnight, whether or not they’re going to make the golf course like it is where we can go get it, or if they’re going to make it hard and firm, where it’s going to be tough to make birdies.”
It screams of Phil Jackson pleading for fouls or Bill Belichick looking for holding calls.
However, if history tells us anything, Tiger is likely to get his way. Between pin placements and course conditions, Augusta National normally plays tougher on the weekends.
“We don’t prepare the course for a specific result, only for a specific test of their capability,” Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said Wednesday, after it was noted that the past three Masters champions finished between 8-under and 10-under par. “And the factor that would cause extreme variations would be weather-related conditions, in most cases”
“In most cases” left room for the 36-hole magic of Spieth, threatening to not only break — but obliterate — Tiger’s tournament record of 18-under on golf’s truest test.
Spieth, to his credit, seems steady.
“I got off to a great start and had a chance to win last year on Sunday. I’d like to have the same opportunity this year,” Speith said. “But this is only the halfway point, and I’m aware of that.”
Halfway to history.
Vince Johnson is covering his seventh Masters Tournament. You can follow his coverage on Twitter @vincejohnson.