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Sports

Three Talking Points: Masters Day Two

Youngster Jordan Spieth kept up his astonishing form at Augusta National to set a new halfway record. And that's just the lead storyline of what's turning into a Masters of new superlatives.

21-year-old American Jordan Spieth carded an immaculate six-under-par 66 in the second round of golf's first major on Friday. That gave him a five-stroke lead over Charley Hoffman with a 36-hole score of 130, bettering the old halfway record held by Ray Floyd.

Two things leap out from Spieth's remarkable pair of rounds: one is his age. If he goes on to claim the title, he'll be the second-youngest Masters winner ever after Tiger Woods in 1997.

The other is how small a role luck has played. Spieth was runner-up at Augusta last year and was among the favorites heading into this year's tournament. He hasn't pulled off any stunners. Spieth has built his lead simply by hitting one good golf shot after the next. He's had fifteen birdies and only one bogey.

If he gets a few breaks, and maybe even if he doesn't, he looks a good bet to break Woods' four-round Masters record of 18 under.

Johnson is Mr. Mercurial

If Spieth has been the tournament's model of consistency, Dustin Johnson has been its erratic genius. The 30-year-old American carded no fewer than three eagles in his second round - also a new Masters record. Those holes allowed him to absorb two bogeys and a double-bogey.

Although he's one of the tour's biggest hitters, Johnson has never made much noise in Augusta. His best previous finish was joint 13th. Johnson took the second half of last year off to address what were officially called "personal challenges" but rumored to be a problem with cocaine. But he's made a fine comeback. And with his extraordinary shot-making ability, at seven under, he's one of a handful of golfers with a slight chance of reeling in Spieth.

Everything's relative

Speaking of comebacks and leaves of absence, Tiger Woods turned in a three-under-par 69 to make the cut. Afterward, the former world number one said he was "proud" of his round. Indeed he should be.

Only a few weeks ago, he was duffing and blading chips like a hack and walking off courses with a variety of what looked like imaginary injuries. Most pundits predicted he would slink away from August in ignominy. Instead he's survived until the weekend on golf's biggest stage and even looks as though he's enjoying himself for the first time in a while.

Current world number one Rory McIlroy also shot a 69 on Friday, which left him tied with Woods on two under. But whilst Woods' round was celebrated, the Northern Irishman was described as struggling to make the cut.

The Masters is the only major to elude the 25-year-old McIlroy, but unless his putter gets red hot and Spieth collapses, he'll have to live with that hole in his resumé for another year.

However, Germany's two most famous golfers would have loved a 69 in round two. Both Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer failed to make the cut and are heading home.

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