AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth is making the Masters look easy.
He opened with a 64 despite making a bogey at the easiest hole on the course. He followed with a bogey-free 66 in which he missed a pair of 6-foot birdie putts. He still broke the 36-hole Masters record that had stood for 39 years. His five-shot lead matched another Masters record.
For two rounds, he has 15 birdies, one bogey and no worries.
The plan Friday afternoon for the 21-year-old Texan was to hang out with his family and some high school friends from Dallas, “taking it easy and hopefully just acting like nothing’s going on.”
Don’t be fooled. He knows what’s happened at Augusta National.
“This is just the halfway point,” Spieth said.
He was at 14-under 130, a two-day total matched by only three other players in major championship history, breaking the Masters mark set by Raymond Floyd in 1976.
His five-shot lead over Charley Hoffman looked even larger considering that Spieth was a runner-up in his Masters debut a year ago, and he came to Augusta this year as the hottest player in the game.
It sure got the attention of the best player in the game.
Rory McIlroy went from trying to complete the career Grand Slam to trying to stick around for the weekend after a 40 on the front nine. He rallied with a 31 on the back nine to make it easily, though he was still 12 shots behind Spieth.
“It’s really, really impressive,” McIlroy said. “I think a few guys can still catch him. It will take, obviously, something extraordinary from myself to get up there, but you never know. I know better than most people what can happen with the lead around here.”
McIlroy lost a four-shot lead in the final round in 2011.
Tiger Woods broke 70 at Augusta National for the first time since 2011. He had a 69 and joined McIlroy at 142, only his outlook was more upbeat.
“I’m still right there,” Woods said. “I’m 12 back, but there’s not a lot of guys ahead of me. And with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen — ’96 proved that. So we have a long way to go.”
Woods was referring to Greg Norman losing a six-shot lead on the final day in 1996. Spieth might find comfort in another reference.
The three other players who had a five-shot lead after 36 holes at Augusta — Herman Keiser in 1946, Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and Floyd in 1976 — all went on to win.
Spieth looked like a winner. The fans treated him like one.
They rose to their feet and applauded when Spieth walked onto the 12th tee, and for the next two hours, ovations greeted him on tee boxes and greens. The red number next to his name on the leaderboard — 14-under — was better than 11 of the past 13 winners.
“I got standing ovations walking to multiple greens,” Spieth said. “I mean, that’s something you can only dream about. It’s Friday, too. I’d like to have the same thing happening on Sunday. Got a lot of work to do before that happens.”
Hoffman tried to keep pace with Spieth and ran off three birdies on the back nine until closing with a bogey for a 68. He was five shots behind at 135, a score that would have been leading at 36 holes in the past three Masters. Hoffman didn’t care about that.
“It’s this year. It’s not any other year,” he said. “I’m just playing golf and I’ve only played 36 holes. And we’ve got a lot of golf left.”
Dustin Johnson opened with a double bogey, then became the first player in Masters history to make three eagles in one round. A bogey from the trees on the last hole gave him a 67, and he was seven shots behind, along with Justin Rose (70) and Paul Casey (68). Phil Mickelson (68) was eight behind.
Spieth thought he could have won it last year when he had a two-shot lead with 11 holes to play until a two-shot swing on No. 8, another one on No. 9 and failing to get any closer to Bubba Watson the rest of the way. But the kid learned.
“The hardest thing to do is put aside wanting to win so bad, and just kind of going through the motion and letting my ball striking and putting happen,” Spieth said. “I got off to a great start and had a chance to win last year on Sunday. I’d like to have that same opportunity this year. Again, this is only the halfway point and I’m aware of that. I’m going to try and stay ... very patient these last two days.”