After Jordan Spieth shot an 8-under-64 in the opening round of the Masters on Thursday, we’re left grasping for explanations and superlatives and general understanding.
An 8-under-64? From a 21-year-old? Really?
“It’s hard to put it into words,” Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “We’ll talk any athlete up obviously – in any sport. But the hard thing is, when you see a 21-year-old do that – I was looking for things that (could provide perspective). The best I could come up with, which was also sobering, was Rory McIlroy at 21 – same age – shot 63 at the old course in the Open Championship in 2010. I thought we were going to have to go back a lot further than that, but even that, you’re talking about a guy that we’ve talked about for five years that he’s going to do all these wonderful things – and he already has. Four majors at 25.
“That’s the breath that Jordan’s in already,” Nobilo continued. “He has such a cool head. He’s coming off not just a great three weeks of where he’s gone win, second, second, but really, he’s just lit it up since October of last year. You just keep thinking, ‘He’s 21. He’s going to slow down a little bit.’ But now – and the reason why I mentioned those last three weeks – is they’re going to serve him in good stead. He’s been in the last group on Sunday his last three tournaments. That sort of pressure, he’s starting to ease into – a little bit like Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods, every major championship, seemed to be in the final group.”
Nobilo, who posted top-10 finishes at all four majors, knows that playing in a final group can be “tough to brave.” Spieth, however, is doing it on a regular basis – and he just keeps getting better.
“He just has such a good head,” Nobilo said. “There was little things that I didn’t really look for when I first went (to Augusta National and) didn’t know how to cope with the panic when something goes wrong. He said yesterday he had never broken 70 in a competitive round. Everything just seems to roll off like water off a duck’s back, which is a great quality. I can’t really put it into words because, to me, I struggled getting to grips with the golf course.”
As for the aforementioned Woods, the 39-year-old shot a 1-over-73 on Thursday, tying for 41st place. Yet, Nobilo – unlike many golf analysts – saw a lot of good in Woods’ opening round.
“I didn’t fall into the camp that he had the yips,” Nobilo said. “I just thought there were so many things that were unanswered. But the amount of scrutiny on his short game just sucked all the oxygen, I think, out of his game, and I would have thought the easiest thing for him to do would be (to) not play. Leading up to it, I did not think he was going to play – because this was the hardest place to get the ball up and around the greens. I know he hit some squirrelly shots, but to go right into the cauldron and be creative and for the short game not to let him down, I thought it was a great step forward.”