1. So now he’s 21…and all grown up? Apparently that practice round Jordan Spieth played at Augusta National six months before his first Masters last year flushed all of the nerves out of his system. Spieth led the 2014 Masters at various points as a 20-year-old, and he is humiliating most of the rest of the field in this one. One day after just missing the tournament record with a first-round of 64, Spieth shot a 66 Friday. His two-day total of 14-under 140 break Raymond Floyd’s 36-hole record of 141 by a stroke. In two days, Spieth has 15 birdies and one bogey. His score would be even lower if he hadn’t missed three potential birdie putts of four, five and seven feet, the last coming on the 18th. But with a five-shot lead over Charley Hoffman and a seven-shot lead over the next closest in the field, he is the overwhelming favorite to win a green jacket at the age of 21. For my full column on Spieth on MyAJC.com, click here.
2. Sorry, Charley: There were at least two things nobody would have expected in this Masters: 1) After two rounds, Charley Hoffman, the No. 63 ranked golfer in the world, would be in second place at 9-under par; 2) 9-under par is five strokes off the lead. Earlier this week at the Par 3 tournament, Hoffman scrambled to get Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to autograph two souvenir yellow flags so he could auction them off at fundraisers. Now his own signature may be worth something. He was 5-under for the day and 10-under for the tournament after consecutive birdies on 12, 13 and 14 but gave one back on the 18th hole. He was considered a likely candidate to fall off the leaderboard on day 2 but he’s been so consistent you would have to assume now he’s not going anywhere.
3. Phil is back: It was amusing that with all of the attention on Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Spieth and others going into this week that three-time winner Phil Mickelson sort of slipped in through the back door undetected. It helped that Mickelson struggled last year, partly because of injury, and he didn’t make the cut in Augusta for the first time since 1997. But he has looked strong this PGA season and this week. He was 2-under in the first round and 4-under Friday. He dropped four birdies on the back nine. At 6-under, he isn’t likely to catch Spieth, but any suggestion that his days as a contender have been sufficiently smothered.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox — MyAJC: Woods is back, or he’s not, or he is, or he’s not… — AJC: Masters short takes: The future (Spieth) and the past (Crenshaw) — AJC: It’s Masters morning and old guys have laready withdrawn — MyAJC: On eve of final Masters, Ben Crenshaw embracing every moment — MyAJC: Woods loose, confident, but is he really ready for Masters — MyAJC: Braves stop the noise with opening victory — AJC: Short takes: Small ball, Teheran, bullpen and a Braves’ win — AJC: LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open series vs. Marlins — AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel) — MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward — MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve — AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury — MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it — AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters — AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation — MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots — AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain — AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)? — AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision — MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks — AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good) — MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players — AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year? — MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be — AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets — MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing — MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be — AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament — MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline — AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia — AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory — AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again