The Latest: Spieth switches gloves, takes control at Masters

Posted at 5:35 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 19:35:20-04

Maybe Jordan Spieth should switch gloves more often.
During the opening round of the Masters, Spieth changed gloves on the 13th fairway because he was struggling to keep a grip on the club. Suddenly, he ripped off five straight birdies to take control at Augusta National.
Spieth says he "started pin seeking" after making the switch, going on to shoot a 6-under 66 that gives him a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.
Spieth stumbled a bit at the 18th hole, where an errant tee shot led to a bogey. But even there, he pulled off a brilliant chip from the edge of the patrons that left him with a tap-in for his final stroke of the day.
Spieth called it a "fantastic shot" and says he "couldn’t get it any closer with a bucket of balls."
As good as he’s feeling, Spieth isn’t getting ahead of himself. Two years ago, he went to the back nine with a comfortable lead, only to fall apart down the stretch and hand the green jacket to Danny Willett.
As Spieth says, "I now as well as anybody that anything can happen at Augusta National."
But the 24-year-old Texan is certainly off to a good start in his quest for a second green jacket.
Spieth won the Masters in 2015, and he’s also got U.S. Open and British Open titles on his already impressive resume.
7:10 p.m.
Jordan Spieth’s quest for a second green jacket is off to a dazzling start.
The 24-year-old Texan birdied five straight holes on the back side to finish with a 6-under 66, giving him a two-shot lead after the opening round of the Masters.
Spieth made eagle at the par-5 eighth hole, but things really got rolling at the 13th. That’s where he began the stretch of five straight birdies, which suddenly made him the man to beat.
This is Spieth’s fifth Masters. He won in 2015 and finished in a tie for second two other times. His worst showing was a year ago, when he tied for 11th. He’s played 17 career rounds at Augusta National – shooting in the 60s six times.
Spieth would’ve had an even bigger lead if not for trouble at the 18th, where an errant tee shot into the trees left of the fairway led to a bogey. But even there, he showed off some magic, chipping up from the edge of the gallery for a tap-in putt.
Amazingly, he needed only 10 putts to get through the back nine.
Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau are Spieth’s closest challengers. Both shot 68, which was a truly amazing performance by Finau considering he dislocated his left ankle just 24 hours earlier while celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par 3 Contest.
The group at 69 includes Rory McIlroy, who’s going for the career Grand Slam, and Henrik Stenson.
6:45 p.m.
Jordan Spieth has taken control at Augusta National.
The 2015 Masters champion birdied five straight holes beginning at the 13th, pushing his score to 7 under with a couple of holes to play. He has a three-shot lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.
Spieth already has three major titles on his resume, even though he won’t turn 25 until late July.
He’s certainly off to a good start in his quest for No. 4.
5 p.m.
It was just a few hours ago that Tony Finau’s spot in the Masters was in question. Now his position is clear: He’s on the leaderboard.
Finau made five birdies over 12 holes in the opening round at Augusta National and got to 4 under.
He did it a day after dislocating his left ankle celebrating a hole-in-one in the Par-3 Tournament and popping it back into place.
X-rays were negative, and Finau was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
4:35 p.m.
Doug Ghim carried the flag for the seven amateurs at the Masters by holing out for eagle on the 18th hole for an even-par 72.
Ghim qualified as the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur last summer at Riviera. He was 2 over for the round when his approach landed about 10 feet short of the flag and rolled into the cup. It was only the sixth eagle on the 18th hole at the Masters, and the first since Chris DiMarco in 2006.
British Amateur champion Harry Ellis had a much tougher time. He opened with a double bogey, started the back nine with a triple bogey and shot 86. Matt Parziale, the firefighter from Brockton, Massachusetts, who won the U.S. Mid-Amateur, managed three birdies but still shot 81.
4:15 p.m.
Tiger Woods feels like he played better than he scored at the Masters.
Woods shot a 1-over 73 in the opening round Thursday, failing to make up any ground on the four par 5s. Woods has feasted on Augusta National’s longest holes over the years, but parred each of them in his return to golf’s first major.
He says, "That was the difference in the round."
The 42-year-old Woods has been away from golf for much of the last few years because of his four back surgeries. The Masters is his first major since playing the PGA Championship in August 2015.
He was back in the Masters field for the first time in 1,089 days.
Woods says he "definitely didn’t score as well as I played," noting that he has to be better on the par-5s.
The four-time Masters champion is far from concerned. He’s typically been a slow starter at Augusta, having shot under par just once (a 68 in 2010) in the opening round.
Woods says, "This is a very bunched leaderboard, and by the end of the week, it’s going to be really crowded."
3:45 p.m.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia made history – not the good kind – in the opening round of the Masters on Thursday.
Garcia carded a 13 on the par-5 15th after hitting five shots into the water in front of the green.
He matched the highest single-hole score in Masters history.
Tom Weiskopf had a 13 at No. 12 in 1980 and Tommy Nakajima did it at No. 13 in 1978.
The meltdown left Garcia at 10 over in the opening round and 14 shots behind the leaders.
Garcia rebounded with a birdie on the par-3 16th, but he’s now a long shot to make the cut Friday.
3:25 p.m.
Of all the shots Marc Leishman hit in the opening round at the Masters, his third one at No. 15 will stand out – for all the wrong reasons.
Leishman’s chip from behind the green rolled through the putting surface and into the water. It led to a double-bogey 7 on the 530-yard hole – his lone flaw of the day.
Leishman dropped from 4 under to 2 under to start golf’s first major.
Charley Hoffman sits atop the leaderboard at 4 under.
2:30 p.m.
Tiger Woods could have used a few prayers before taking on Amen Corner.
Woods hit three balls into the gallery and another into the water at Augusta National’s famed, three-hole signature section. He finished with two bogeys and a par, and it could have been much worse.
Still, it left him 3 over in the opening round at the Masters and seven shots behind leader and playing partner Marc Leishman.
The slippage started when Woods pushed his drive at the par-4 11th way right. He cleared hundreds of fans before attempting to play through a spectator walking area. His second shot squirted right and into the gallery he just repositioned.
His third shot landed past the hole and left him with a downhill, 20-foot par putt that he missed left.
His tee shot at the par-3 12th came up short and rolled into renowned Rae’s Creek. His third shot stayed on the front fringe, but he saved bogey by making a 15-footer from there.
He seemed to be disgusted with himself as he walked to the 13th tee. He pushed his tee shot right into the pine straw and then pushed his next shot into another gallery. He flew the back of the green from there and had a 12-footer to salvage a birdie on what has been the easiest hole on the course. He just missed the putt.
Tony Finau is on the course at Augusta National, playing on a badly sprained left ankle.
He dislocated his ankle celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par-3 Tournament on Wednesday and then popped it back into place. X-rays were negative, and Finau was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
He was planning to play through the pain.
"Crazy day," he posted on his Twitter account. "Thanks for thoughts of concern, messages and prayers from all. I’m optimistic."
11:55 a.m.
Tiger Woods has his first birdie at the Masters in nearly three years.
Woods almost drove the green at the par-4 No. 3, pitched to about 10 feet and made the putt to set off a huge "Tiger Roar" at Augusta National.
It was Woods’ first competitive birdie at the famed course since April 12, 2015, at No. 15 in the final round of the Masters. He finished tied for 17th.
Woods gave the stroke back on the next hole when his tee shot found a greenside bunker. He chipped out and missed a 20-footer for par.
Playing partner Marc Leishman was leading the event at 2 under.
10:25 a.m.
Tony Finau says he is "optimistic" after a "crazy day" at the Masters.
Finau dislocated his left ankle celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par-3 Tournament on Wednesday and then popped it back into place.
X-rays were negative. Finau was scheduled for more tests Thursday before teeing off (12:43 p.m.) in the first round at Augusta National.
"Crazy day," he posted on his Twitter account. "Thanks for thoughts of concern, messages and prayers from all. I’m optimistic."
Finau flew the back of the seventh green on the Par-3 course and spun it back into the hole for an ace. He started running toward the hole to celebrate, then turned and backpedaled before landing awkwardly on his left ankle. He dropped to one knee and ended up pushing the joint back into place.
Finau, ranked No. 34 in the world, stuck around for the final two holes and then gingerly walked to a golf cart and was driven off the course.
8:15 a.m.
The 82nd Masters has begun.
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player officially got the tournament started Thursday morning with the ceremonial tee shot.
Player, 82, took the first swing followed by the 78-year-old Nicklaus under a clear, sunny sky with the temperature in the 40s. It is expected to be in the high 60s by the afternoon.
Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told the crowd crammed around the first tee how privileged they were to have the duo with nine green jackets to start the tournament.
Wesley Bryan, Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr. were the first group to tee off when play began.