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Spieth takes first round lead at Masters, two up on Finau, Kuchar

Jordan Spieth (MGN)

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.

Again.

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.

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.


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