Australian’s Adam Scott and Jason Day are hoping Augusta National officials crank up the difficulty on the weekend as they back themselves to chase a red hot Jordan Spieth at the Masters.
It would be a chase for the ages given Spieth has the lowest 36-hole score in relation to par in major championship history, has tied the all-time major championship 36-hole scoring record and has the lowest halfway mark in Masters’ history.
The 21-year-old American carded 64-66 over the opening rounds, leaving him at 14-under 130, five in front of his nearest challenger in American Charley Hoffman and a whopping 11 in front of the Aussie pair who are tied 12th at three-under 141.
Spieth matches the largest 36-hole lead at the Masters also held by Herman Keiser (1946), Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Raymond Floyd (1976) and all three players carried the lead into the winner’s circle.
The largest comeback at the Masters after the second round is eight strokes by Jack Burke in 1956, so the Australians would need to smash history.
But after two days of soft conditions by Masters standards they are hoping the sub-air heaters under the greens are pumped up and things get tough as both believe the tougher it is, the better they can be compared to the field.
They will get the opportunity to inspire each other, paired together for the third round.
They both also remember all to well how Greg Norman led the 1996 Masters by four after 36 and by six after 54 holes and shot 78 to lose by five and they almost chased down Rory McIlroy in 2011, finishing tied second, after he led by four through 54 holes and shot 80 on Sunday.
“I hate to bring it up, but we’ve seen all this stuff happen before over far less holes so 36 is a lot of golf,” said Scott, who let a four shot lead with four holes to play slip in the 2012 British Open.
“It will be really interesting to see what happens, I hope there is no rain between now and tomorrow’s round because the greens are really starting to firm up.”
Scott said the key would be being under par through the tough first seven holes and then getting hot.
“From there you can shoot absolutely anything, he said.
“There is potential to shoot eight or nine under from there but realistically if you gave me 67 I’d take that and run tomorrow.”
Day, who has a couple of runner up finishes and a fourth at the US Open where conditions are notoriously tough, and has also been tied second and third at the Masters was succinct.
“The harder the better. I would like that,” he said.
Spieth is aware there is plenty of real estate between him and the green jacket and at just 21 is trying to keep his cool.
“The hardest thing to do is put aside wanting to win so bad,” he said.
“I got off to a great start and had a chance to win last year on Sunday. I’d like to have that same opportunity this year. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and I’m going to try and stay in the moment and be very patient these last two days.”