Sensational Spieth dazzles at Augusta again to take first-round Masters lead
Jordan Spieth produced yet another Masters masterclass to claim a two-shot lead at the end of a typically eventful opening round at Augusta.
The three-time major champion evoked memories of his sensational first-round performance of 2015, where he scored 64 en route to a stunning wire-to-wire triumph that saw him match the record-low score for victory.
On this occasion, Spieth shot 66, an eagle at the eighth kick-starting a round that burst into life in spectacular fashion with a run of five straight birdies between the 13th and 17th holes.
Even when the 24-year-old made a complete hash of the 18th, he played one of the shots of the day to limit the damage to a bogey.
Spieth has now led or co-led after nine of his 17 rounds at the Masters, drawing him level with Tiger Woods' haul, and a star-studded chasing pack already have their work cut out to keep him in check at a course where The Open champion has played some of his finest golf.
Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar are his nearest challengers on four under par, the former continuing an already dramatic debut year having dislocated his ankle during the par-three contest, popped it back in himself, and received the all-clear to compete as late as Thursday morning.
Rory McIlroy is firmly in contention to win a maiden green jacket and complete golf's grand slam after carding a three-under 69, and the Northern Irishman is one of seven players tied for fourth.
Woods - playing Augusta for the first time since 2015 after returning to fitness and form following several back surgeries - scrambled valiantly for a one-over par 73, having been among the day's earlier starters.
Jordan Spieth ... leading ... at the Masters ... again. pic.twitter.com/ooGJrOxo7O-- PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 5, 2018
But it was another Masters day that belonged to Spieth, who had initially made a patchy start to his round as two early birdies were derailed by bogeys at five and seven.
A brilliant eagle at the eighth lit the touch paper, before he made the green in two at the par-five 13th and two-putted to move to three under.
Spieth followed up with a 10-foot putt for birdie at the 14th, made another gain with some smart play at the par-five 15th, hit his tee shot to within three feet on his way to picking up a shot at the following hole, and completed the streak with a first career birdie at 17.
Trouble followed at the last with a hooked tee shot that found the woods to the left and, after laying up, he found the patrons with his third stroke.
But Spieth produced more magic with a beautiful wedge that left him with a tap-in.
Until Spieth's heroics, Finau had been the day's major talking point following his injury mishap, and the Masters rookie was at one stage flying solo at the summit, going four under through 13. A dropped shot and a birdie followed, before he made a fine par save at the last.
Kuchar, famously denied a maiden major by Spieth at last year's Open, flew largely under the radar, but was five under for his back nine after reaching the turn at one over.
McIlroy made steady progress, dropping just one shot and making some fine par saves in his final holes.
Yet defending champion Sergio Garcia is unlikely to be playing over the weekend after taking an unwanted share of Masters history.
The Spaniard found the water five times at the 15th and had to endure the humiliation of marking a 13 on his card - tying the record-highest score recorded on a hole at the Masters.