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Spieth takes big lead to weekend at the Masters
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — At the Masters, those famous, hand-operated scoreboards are all over the course. It's kind of hard to miss them.

Jordan Spieth will do his best.

Golf's next big star has positioned himself for a coronation at the most hallowed of spots, playing the first two rounds at Augusta National better than anyone who came before him.

Spieth heads to the third round with a 14-under 130 — the lowest 36-hole score in the tournament's history — and a commanding five-stroke lead that matches the biggest edge at this point in the tournament.

"No scoreboard watching," Spieth said. "Just keep my head down and set a goal for myself."

Herman Keiser in 1946, Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and Raymond Floyd in 1976 went to the weekend with the same five-shot advantage. All went on to capture the green jacket, which bodes well for Spieth.

Especially the way he's playing, making Friday's 66 look downright easy. His most challenging putt to save par was about 7 feet. He would have gone even lower if not for misses from inside 10 feet at the ninth and 18th holes.

"It's a long, long way from being finished," Ernie Els said after a 72 put him nine shots back. "A lot of work still to be done, so we'll see. But he's very, very impressive."

Charley Hoffman was Spieth's closest challenger at 135, but he's playing the Masters for only the second time and has never been a serious contender in a major.

As for everyone else, Spieth would have to totally fall apart for any of them to have a realistic chance.

The green jacket is there for the taking.

"As far as history and what happened the last couple of days, it doesn't mean anything unless I can close it out," Spieth said. "I don't want to go down as the 36-hole best record, but somebody who didn't win."

Some things to watch for in the third round of the Masters on Saturday:

HOFFMAN'S STAYING POWER: There's a lot of big names on the leaderboard, including major champions Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els.

Hoffman looks out of place.

Until now, the 38-year-old was known largely for his flowing, bleached mullet, which always made him easy to spot on the course. He cut his hair but attracted plenty of notice for the way he played the first two days, shooting 67 and 68 to earn a spot with Spieth in the final group Saturday.

Of course, the major championships are filled with golfers who played well in the early going, only to fade badly on the weekend. It will be interesting to see how Hoffman holds up under the pressure of a Masters weekend.

GET TOUGH: The course was there for the taking over the first two days, but the players can expect much tougher conditions on the weekend.

The guys in the green jackets do not take kindly to players running roughshod over their treasured course like Spieth did the first two days. Look for tournament officials to break out every trick in their greens-keeping book to slicken up the putting services. And there could be some downright devilish pin positions, which will put a premium on patience and course knowledge.

IMPROVING TIGER: Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods was largely overlooked as Spieth raced out to a commanding lead, but there were plenty of encouraging signs as he posted a round of 69.

After taking two months off to work on his game and get healthy, Woods made four birdies and only one bogey to keep easily alive his streak of never missing a Masters cut as a professional. He even flashed some of that old Tiger confidence, insisting he still had a chance even though he was a daunting 12 shots off the lead.

GRAND SLAMMED: Rory McIlroy finally looked like a player on the cusp of the career Grand Slam with a 5-under 31 on the back side Friday. Unfortunately for him, that mainly ensured he got to play on the weekend.

Like Woods, McIlroy is a dozen shots off the lead after a pair of 71s. Unlike Woods, Boy Wonder is realistic about his chances.

He knows his next best shot at the Grand Slam will be at the 2016 Masters.

"I'm really proud of myself the way I fought back. To shoot 5 under on the back nine is a good effort," he said. "I need four more nines like that to have a chance."

DJ'S TIME? Dustin Johnson has been on that list of best players never to win a major for a while now.

He's in the mix again after becoming the first player in Masters history to make three eagles in a single round, which helped him shoot a 67 and go to the weekend seven shots off the lead.

In many ways, it was a typical Johnson round, filled with plenty of thrilling highs and excruciating lows. He played the four par-5s at 7 under, but also made a double bogey at the first after driving into the middle of the fairway, and a bogey at the 10th after another perfect drive.

If Johnson can limit the silly mistakes, he has the game to make a run at Spieth.


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