Jordan Spieth was talking about punches.
He has delivered a fair amount of his own to Augusta National in only five years. He sent the revered layout to the canvas in 2015 with an 18-under-par winning total.
Spieth took shots to the gut a year later, when he collapsed on the back nine to squander a five-shot lead in what seemed to be a sure victory.
He entered Friday’s second round of the Masters coming off a 66, with pundits wondering if he might run away with the tournament.
The first two holes answered that.
Spieth hit his opening tee shot into the right trees and made double bogey, and suffered another bogey at the par-five second to quickly fall out of the top spot.
He never regained the lead, but battled back to shoot a two-over 74 and stayed in contention at four under, five strokes behind leader Patrick Reed. If the usually demonstrative Spieth was fuming when he walked to the third tee, he didn’t show it. In fact, when he was asked later what he was thinking, Spieth said with a smile, “This is an easy tee shot; you can’t screw this one up.
“I’ve taken a lot of punches on this golf course, and in tournaments in general,” Spieth said. “I told [caddie] Michael [Greller], ‘Look, when this course plays tough, I’m good for a double here or some bogeys there. Let’s make these the only ones.’ “
Spieth made one more bogey, when he impatiently tried to go for a difficult pin at No. 7, but steadied himself with nine pars and birdies on the back nine’s par-fives, No. 13 and 15.
He needed more putts (33) than in any of his previous 17 rounds in the Masters.
Spieth enters Saturday tied for fourth, marking the 10th time he has gone into a Masters round in fourth place or better.
Finau hangs tough
A big letdown would have been understandable for Tony Finau, with all the attention paid in the first round to his ankle injury and ensuing 68.
Finau couldn’t match that, but he remained in contention with a two-over 74 that had him tied for eighth at two under. The Utah native made one birdie — with a spectacular second shot to four feet at the 18th hole — and sprinkled in three bogeys.
He moved the ball back in his address and the ankle felt better than it did in the first round.
“You don’t have to miss by much on this golf course,” Finau said. “I feel like I didn’t really get rewarded for a lot of good shots I hit on the back, but that’s just the way this golf course plays.”
In regard to the rolling of Finau’s ankle during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest, physicians noted to reporters that calling the injury a “dislocation” was incorrect. The medical term is “subluxation,” or a severe sprain.
Wild day for Mickelson
An unplayable lie in the trees, a whiffed flop shot and a rinsing of his ball in Rae’s Creek were all part of Phil Mickelson’s round of 79 that tied for his worst score at the Masters.
Mickelson made the cut at five over, but he has little chance to win a fourth green jacket after he’d entered the tournament with four top-five finishes in 2018, including a victory in Mexico.
“It’s disappointing,” Mickelson said. “There’s a fine line between wanting it so bad and then also letting it kind of happen. As you get older, you feel a little bit more pressure each one because you don’t feel as though you have an unlimited amount of events.
“So given how well I was playing heading into this, I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself to perform this week.”
Among Mickelson’s adventures in the second round: He hooked his drive deep into the trees at No. 9, stayed in the woods on the second shot, had to take an unplayable lie, and made a triple bogey seven; he got too far under a flop shot at 11 and advanced the ball only a few yards and made bogey; he found the water at 12 and made double bogey.
Couples makes 30th cut
Sometimes looking as if he wouldn’t be able to make another swing because of his bad back, 58-year-old Fred Couples managed to reach the weekend for the 30th time in the Masters.
That mark tied Gary Player for the second-most, with six-time winner Jack Nicklaus holding the No. 1 spot at 37.
The 1992 Masters champion shot 74 to have a two-over total that left him tied for 28th. Couples had only two pars on the back nine. He recovered from a triple bogey seven on the 11th with birdies on 12, 13 and 15, but finished with bogeys on 16 and 18.
Garcia vs. firefighter
The day after he made a 13 at the par-five 15th, defending champion Sergio Garcia shot 78 and finished with a 15-over total. That put him in a tie for 82nd place with U,S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale, a firefighter by profession.
Parziale, 30, scored an eagle at 13 and shot 79 after opening with an 81.
“This place is incredible, the second you walk in,” said Parziale, from Brockton, Mass.
In his 35th Masters, 60-year-old Bernhard Langer made the cut at four over. Among the players missing the cut were former PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (six over), 2011 Masters champ Charl Schwartzel (six over), UCLA product Patrick Cantlay (seven over), 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett (seven over) and recent Match Play semifinalist and Farmers Insurance Open playoff loser Alex Noren (nine over).