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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Jordan Spieth was looking to turn the Masters into a rout before it even got to the weekend.

The 21-year-old Texan was off to another strong start in the second round Friday, making three birdies on the front side to stretch his lead to four strokes.

The world’s top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, had not even teed off by the time Spieth pushed his score to 11 under with a brilliant approach shot at the par-5 eighth. After driving into a bunker and barely getting out, he stuck his third shot from 228 yards within 3 feet of the flag to set up another birdie.

Spieth also made birdies at the par-5 second and at No. 5, where he rolled in an 18-foot putt. Just as important, he made all those testy, par-saving putts that can ruin your day at Augusta National.

A 4-footer at No. 1. A 6-footer at the third. A 3-footer at No. 6. A 4-footer at the seventh.

“He’s special,” said Ernie Els, who began the day three shots back and quickly fell farther behind on a sultry, overcast day, with the threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon. “Nothing stands out, because he does everything well. He’s going to be tough to beat.”

Spieth opened with an 8-under 64, the lowest opening round at the Masters in 19 years and just one stroke off the major championship scoring record. That gave him a three-shot edge over Els, Charley Hoffman, Justin Rose and Jason Day.

Hoffman, playing the Masters for only the second time after failing to qualify the last three years, kept up his strong play by matching Spieth’s birdies at the second and the fifth. He was the only player staying somewhat close to the leader.

Day was six shots behind, even with an eagle at No. 2. Rose teed off in the early afternoon, also facing a daunting six-stroke deficit.

Tiger Woods, more concerned with making the cut than contending after an opening 73, was 1 under on the round and back to even for the tournament. That was encouraging, given his struggles before he took a two-month hiatus from the PGA Tour, but nowhere close to challenging Spieth.

McIlroy, looking to complete a career Grand Slam, also had his work cut out. He opened with a 71 and faced the prospect of a double-digit deficit by the time he teed off.

Former Masters champion Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., was 6 over through 10 holes on the second round, while amateur Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., was 2 under through 10.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

Paul Newberry, The Associated Press













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