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Spieth (64) off to brilliant beginning in 79th Masters

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jordan Spieth’s golf bag looked a lot like a quiver full of lightning bolts.

The kid made his way around Augusta National Thursday like some baby-faced Zeus.

Spieth took charge of the Masters hurling nine birdies at the field. If not for a lone bogey, the 21-year-old Texan would have equaled the record low score in a major championship. While more than content with his 64, Spieth was kicking himself for not knowing he could have made history shooting 63.

“That’s a little frustrating ... but I’m certainly OK with the day,” Spieth said.

That remark sent a jolt of laughter through the Masters interview room.

The innocence of youth.

Greg Norman and Nick Price are the only men to have shot 63s at the Masters. They’re both Hall of Famers, multiple major championship winners, former world No. 1s and PGA Tour Player of the Year winners. Price shot his 63 in the third round in 1986, with Norman doing it in the first round in ’96. Though, neither man went on to win.

Overall, a 63 has been posted 26 times in majors.

This week opened with excitement over Tiger Woods’ return and with Rory McIlroy trying to win the career Grand Slam, but Spieth stole the show in the opening round. He ignited the grounds with a buzz over whether he’s poised to finish what he started last year.

Playing his first Masters a year ago, Spieth built a two-shot lead early in the final round, only to watch Bubba Watson outplay him down the stretch to win his second green jacket.

Of course, after Thursday’s brilliant start, Spieth refused to think ahead to what drama this fast start might set up for him on another Masters weekend.

“It's Round 1,” Spieth said. “It's just a lot of good breaks and good putting, chipping and short game. I don't think that way right now. There are 54 holes left and anything happens in a major.”

Spieth isn’t just capturing the imagination of the patrons here at Augusta National. He’s winning over fellow Tour players who see something special in him.

Two-time Masters winner Ben Crenshaw might be the leader of the Spieth fan club.

“When I first met him, I’ll never forget it,” Crenshaw said. “I looked at him, and I thought I was looking at Wyatt Earp. He just had that look about him, just wonderful.”

Ernie Els, who’s in the hunt after shooting 67, wasn’t surprised to see Spieth off to such a fast start.

“What a player,” Els said. “You just cannot see this kid not win many, many majors. I think he is by far the most balanced kid I've seen ... Jordan, he's got that little tenacity to him, and he's really got a fighting spirit, and he's the nicest kid in the world. So I just love playing with him.”

Billy Horschel played alongside Spieth Thursday and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show.

“It was impressive to see the kid play,” Horschel said. “I mean everyone was showing their appreciation for the great round of golf that he was playing.”

It wasn’t just the shot making Horschel appreciated. It was the way Spieth commanded the stage, the animated way he plays and talks to his golf ball.

“If anyone ever wants to call him out and criticize him for the way he is emotionally, I'll stick up for that kid,” Horschel said. “I'll be the first guy in the line.”

Spieth hit some great shots. He hit a fantastic recovery at the 14th. From behind a tree right of the fairway, he opened the face of his 7-iron and hit a big bending fade around the tree. The gallery around the green erupted when Spieth nearly holed it. He hit the flagstick, leaving himself a couple feet for his birdie there.

Over a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round, Spieth made six birdies. He sent a couple jolts through Amen Corner with birdies at the 12th and 13th holes.

“It’s Jordan’s Corner now,” Horschel said. “It’s Amen Corner no more.”

A year ago here, there were questions about Spieth’s ability to close out leads. He brings confidence and momentum this year having done it since. He won the Australian Open last November and the Valspar Championship last month.

“I'm sure it has struck all of you that he's way mature beyond his years,” Crenshaw said. “He has an innate ability to score. I think one of the really wonderful things, that I really do like about him, he's got competitive fire. You can see it. I think he carries that off in a great fashion.”

He did that and more Thursday at the Masters.