AUGUSTA, Ga. - Jordan Spieth does like to talk while he is on the golf course. He talks to the ball. He talks to himself. He talks to his caddie, especially after a decision doesn't work out. The best speeches, though, come from other people, talking about him.
That would include Billy Horschel, who played with Spieth and saw the 21-year-old shoot 8-under-par 64 in the first round of the Masters Thursday. "To quote him," Spieth said after a round that was one off the course record, "he said, 'I need a tape recorder that just plays "Nice Hole, Jordan," on each tee box.' "
There were compliments galore for the young man who made nine birdies and who ended the first round of the Masters three shots ahead of his nearest pursuers. For instance, Ernie Els, one of the four players tied for second after a 67, said, "He's a special kid, and a tough little player. I played with him last week and we had a ball. I met his sister last week, met his parents. I think he's by far the most balanced kid I've seen.
"You just cannot see this kid not win many, many majors," Els said.
Not so fast. Spieth knows there is a huge difference between being ahead of the field and getting ahead of himself. He is determined not to do the latter, having led the Masters on Sunday last year, but failing to win the tournament.
When someone proposed the idea of destiny, what with Spieth having received a couple good bounces Thursday, he said, "It's round one. It's just a good breaks and good putting and good chipping and short game day for me. There's 54 holes left and anything happens in a major. I need to play some really, really good golf and I need to hit my driver and I need to hit my irons better than I did today to have a chance to win this week."
That said, it sure was fun for him and exciting for those watching. Spieth totally upstaged Tiger Woods (73, 1 over), making his return from a two-month hiatus, and Rory McIlroy (71, 1 under), shooting for the career Grand Slam and a third consecutive major title. He finished three ahead of Els, Charley Hoffman, Justin Rose and Jason Day.
Spieth made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch, from Nos. 8 through 14. He thought he had missed his birdie putt on the par-3 12th, but it fell in for a 2. He couldn't see the green from the pine straw on the par-4 14th when he hit a 7-iron shot. He pleaded with the ball, "Go!" Which it did, rolling enough to clip the flagstick.
After making the short birdie putt, he was 8 under with the inviting par-5 15th looming -- a hole that Hoffman and Els had eagled. That was the one time Spieth got ahead of himself. He was not aware that 62 would be the best round ever in a major, but he knew that 10 under sure looked good.
But he hit a hybrid instead of the 4-iron that his instincts were telling him to choose. His shot flew well over the green, he chipped short and made bogey, derailing his momentum. Suffice it to say he let caddie Michael Greller know about it.
Later, Spieth said, "He did exactly what I want him to do. Michael was protecting the miss. It was my responsibility to then bet on myself to hit a shot solid."
He did not let that error stay with him, and he made up for it on the 18th. He hit a good drive there, then "a nice, smooth lofted 8-iron" and finished the day with a birdie putt. The crowd spoke volumes about Spieth, cheering like crazy. "It was cool. It was cool when that went in," he said. Ultimately, he had the last word: "I'm certainly OK with the day."