St Andrews (CNN)Jordan Spieth took a seat on the bench by the 10th tee and punched his bag. Hard.
After a sloppy bogey on the previous hole he admitted it was as frustrated as he'd ever been on a golf course. Since yesterday at least. It also marked the turning point in his round.
Three holes and three birdies later, the 21-year-old led the British Open and his quest to become the first man in history to win all four major championships in a season had a fresh pulse of energy.
Blocking his path to major number three are three men on 12-under; Paul Dunne, a 22-year-old amateur from Ireland, South African Louis Oosthuizen — champion the last time the Open was held here at St Andrews — and Australian Jason Day, a regular contender.
A total of 14 players are within four shots of the lead. Six of them are major champions. The second Monday finish in the British Open's 144-year history is shaping up to be unforgettable.
When asked what kind of pressure he might feel should he stand on the precipice of an historic hat-trick, Spieth's answer said everything about his current state of mind.
"It hasn't come up in my head while I've been playing yet," he told reporters after a round of 66 took him one off the lead.
"If I have a chance coming down the stretch, if it creeps in, I'll embrace it. I'll embrace the opportunity that presents itself.
"I don't look at it as a negative thing, I look at it almost as an advantage. Why should it add more pressure in a negative way?
"If it adds more pressure, it just makes me feel like this is something that's a little more special, let's go ahead and get the job done.
"For me, I think it could be advantageous. You hit the ball a little bit further, you can really get your mind around a more specific target and block out other things."
Behind Spieth, Ireland's Padraig Harrington — a two-time British Open champion and three-time major winner — sits on 10-under.
A group of nine players are one behind, including 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott, from Australia, and former U.S Open champions Justin Rose, from England, and South Africa's Retief Goosen.
Yet the gallery that gathered to see Spieth off the Old Course's first tee at 1.30pm local time left little doubt as to who is golf's man of the moment.
Playing with ever popular Sergio Garcia there were more shrieks of encouragement for the American and even an audible few from the Spanish contingent.
The clamor grew louder after a birdie on the very first hole, one fan remarking to his pal: "Look out lads, he's on the charge."
A regulation birdie followed on the par five seventh, after Spieth had walked a full 200 yards up the fairway to remind himself of the green's contours and been rewarded with a cry of "Cowboy up, Jordan" from a fellow American.
But by the time he needlessly handed a shot back on the ninth green the red mist had descended.
"Walking off the ninth green was as frustrated as I've been in a tournament other than off 14 on Friday morning," he explained.
"I don't normally ever display frustration. I did both times. I couldn't hold it in.
"I think I punched my golf bag. I wasn't going to break a club or anything or throw a club, but I didn't want to hit Michael (Greller, his caddy) so I figured I'd hit my golf bag."
That display of anger only served to release the champion within.
A bounce back birdie followed on the 10th, a slaloming putt on the undulating 11th took him to 10-under and by the time he rolled in another on 12 he sat atop the leaderboard.
Perhaps the 21-year-old, who is a measure of composure and maturity on and off the course, should get angry more often.
He and Garcia, chugging along nicely himself at eight-under by that point, reached the intersection of the 13th and 5th greens just as overnight leader Dustin Johnson approached.
Spieth made par to stay with the leading pack while Johnson went long from a bunker and couldn't accept the regulation birdie on offer.
The symbolism was lost on no-one.
Last month Johnson handed Spieth the U.S. Open title after three-putting on the final green. Now at St Andrews, despite being five shots clear of his compatriot at the start of play, he was behind again after a disappointing 75 to fall back to seven-under.
By the time Spieth teed off on the 14th the galleries had grown bigger and the press contingent had quadrupled.
If any confirmation were needed that he had suddenly become the center of attention, it arrived when the television Segway arrived; the ultimate form of flattery.
A towering approach to the tricky 15th green set up another birdie chance, that was accepted with a pump of the fist.
On 16, yet again, you could have thrown a napkin over Spieth and Garcia's drives. Theirs was as cordial a two-ball as will be seen all week.
So much so, that on the green, Spieth leant to his left in an attempt to coax Garcia's putt into the hole. When the Texan sank a testing putt for par, the fist pump came out again.
Golf is a serious business but on the 18th tee, a spot of mirth.
The grandstand tittered along with the players when Garcia teed his ball up only to realize it was Spieth's honor to play first.
As he walked up the 18th a gaggle of Americans sang 'Eyes of Texas' at him — his old university song — and he looked almost embarrassed.
Though the disappointment of missing out on a birdie at the ever-accessible last will grate, he signed for a round of six-under to stand on the shoulders of the leading trio.
They know as well as Spieth that he is becoming adept at closing out big tournaments.
So if he were to match the feat of Ben Hogan, who won the first three majors of the season back in 1953, how would he appraise such an epic undertaking?
Only one person has ever done it before — that opportunity very rarely comes around — and I'd like to have a chance to do something nobody has ever done," he said.
"If I think about it that way, then I just want it a little bit more tomorrow.
"To be able to go into the last major and accomplish something that's never been done in our sport is something that only comes around to a couple of people ever.
"I'd like to be one of those people to have that happen. That's just going to go into my fight tomorrow. I'm also going to have to manage that, and that I'll go into my fight ahead of time.
"Once I get inside the ropes, we're just going to have our game plan and be ready to go."