124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Long, challenging day at Masters still ends with Jordan Spieth on top


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April 08, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The amazing part about Jordan Spieth's Friday at Augusta National is when you consider everything that didn't go right. The 74 was Spieth's first round over par in the Masters. He had a five-shot lead at one point that was whittled down to one by day's end.

Battling through windy conditions, where he was forced to back off shots on multiple occasions, he was put on the clock by rules officials on the most difficult part of the golf course.

So, in other words, not a perfect day. And yet thanks to a 10-foot par putt on the final hole, Spieth still left the golf course for the sixth consecutive round with a lead in the Masters. We should all have such bad days.

"I think I can use the back nine today as a learning experience," Spieth told reporters. "It was very tough to stay cool. . . I mean, you guys try it. That was a hard golf course."

The most challenging stretch for Spieth came on the 11th hole, when his group was notified of its lagging pace, and he still had to negotiate the swirling winds at Amen Corner. He walked away with a bogey on 11, and a clutch par on 12. He admits he couldn't quibble with officials: the group was slow, but the timing was far from ideal.

"I would say have fun getting on the clock at 11 of Augusta and then play 11 and 12 rushing with gusting winds," Spieth said. "It's not fun."

The conditions are expected to be equally as difficult on Saturday, and Spieth faces the added complication of playing alongside rival Rory McIlroy, a guy with two more majors and a few more yards off the tee. The two men are friendly, but not particularly close, and Spieth acknowledges he might be pushed out of his comfort zone.

"I'd rather be playing with someone less threatening, to be honest," he said. "He's certainly proven himself in majors. But I think it's going to be fun, a really fun challenge."