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Spieth frustrated with poor Saturday finish

Spieth bogeyed the 17th and double bogeyed the 18th. Credit: PA

Defending champion Jordan Spieth admitted he would struggle to forget how his poor finish had left the destiny of the 80th Masters up in the air.

Spieth held a four-shot lead with two holes to play on a windswept day at Augusta National, but bogeyed the 17th and double bogeyed the 18th after wild drives to card a 73 and finish three under par, just a shot ahead of fellow American Smylie Kaufman.

''I just have to absolutely throw it away, the finish to this round, pretend it's a new round, everyone is tied and you have to shoot the best score to win," said Spieth, who is aiming to become the fourth player after Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods to win back-to-back titles.

"(I have to) understand it's the position I wanted to be in after 54 holes and not think about the finish to this round.' It's going to be very difficult. I played the last three holes, the last two days, five over par. There was no challenge in those holes really.

"If I'm at five, six under, that certainly brings anyone who is over par almost out of the tournament. And now with very little wind (on Sunday), someone gets on a run and shoots six, seven under, I know I have to shoot a significant under par round in order to win this tournament, when I could have played a different style of golf like I did on Sunday last year."

Asked how he would clear his head, Spieth joked: "Probably go break something really quick, have dinner and watch a movie. I think it will be tough personally. That wasn't a fun last couple holes to play from the position I was in."

Spieth takes instant command at Augusta

Spieth had a brilliant opening day. Credit: PA

Defending champion Jordan Spieth assumed his customary position on top of the leaderboard with a brilliant 66 in the 80th Masters on Thursday.

Spieth, who was second on his debut in 2014 and claimed a first green jacket with a record-breaking performance 12 months ago, carded six birdies and no bogeys despite swirling winds on the opening day at Augusta National.

The 22-year-old, who is looking to become just the fourth player after Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods to successfully defend the year's first major championship, led from start to finish after an opening 64 last year and w as quickly into his stride with birdies on the third, sixth and eighth to move into the outright lead.

Another birdie on the 10th was followed by crucial par saves from the trees on the 11th and over the green on the 12th, before the US Open champion two-putted the 13th for birdie.

Spieth, who set records for the highest number of birdies (28) and lowest 36 and 54-hole totals in Masters history last year, understandably kissed his putter in delight after ho ling from 15 feet for par on the 16th.

And the world number two then finished in style with a birdie from five feet on the last to reach 29 under par for his nine competitive rounds at the Masters. Assuming he is not overtaken, his leaderboard position after each of those rounds will read 12-3-1-2-1-1-1-1-1.

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McIlroy placed in last Masters grouping

Rory McIlroy faces a lengthy wait before he can begin his bid to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam at Augusta National this week.

McIlroy will be the very last man in the 89-strong field to hit his opening tee shot in the Masters after being drawn in the final group at 2:01pm local time for Thursday's first round.

McIlroy will be the very last man in the 89-strong field to hit his opening tee shot. Credit: PA

The four-time major winner, who was fourth last year, will partner Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer and America's Bill Haas in the first two rounds of the year's first major championship.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who is looking to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo in winning back-to-back titles, gets his campaign under way at 9:48am alongside England's Paul Casey and US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau.

World number one Jason Day tees off at 1:06pm with Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els, who is the lowest-ranked winner of any of the last 16 major championships. The South African was 40th in the world when he won the Open at Royal Lytham in 2012.

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer will act as honorary starters at 8:05am, although Palmer will not hit a tee shot on the par-four first due to a shoulder problem.

American Jim Herman, who was the last man into the event by virtue of his victory in the Shell Houston Open, is the first man out in the tournament proper at 8:20am alongside Australia's Steven Bowditch.

England's Andy Sullivan will make his tournament debut with Harris English and Kevin Na at 10:32am, while new father Danny Willett tees off at 1:39pm with Sergio Garcia and Ryan Moore.

Golf player Christy O'Connor Jnr dies aged 67

Irish golfer Christy O'Connor Jnr, best remembered for helping Europe retain the Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 1989 when he fired a stunning shot with his two iron to within feet of the hole, has died aged 67.

Christy O'Connor Jnr has died at 67. Credit: PA

O'Connor's victory over American Fred Couples at the Ryder Cup in '89 helped ensure the contest finished 14-14 with holders Europe therefore retaining the trophy.

O'Connor Jnr's career highlights included two Ryder Cup appearances, 17 professional tournament wins, four wins on the European Tour and two British Open Senior titles.

It is understood he was on holiday in Tenerife when he died.

Rome to host Ryder Cup in 2022

The Ryder Cup is heading to Rome. Credit: PA

The Italian capital city of Rome will host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2022, Ryder Cup Europe has announced.

Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain all bid to host the event but the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, 17km from the centre of Rome, was eventually chosen.

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