The Masters Championship at Augusta National in Augusta, Ga. has completed the first round and what a round it was!
Surprises took shape in the opening round with an Aussie and a Spaniard leading at the end of the day with 6-under scores. Marc Leishman from Australia and Sergio Garcia from Spain, lit up the scoreboard at the 77th Masters which had many golf fans scratching their heads collectively and asking two questions: First) Who is Marc Leishman and Second) Sergio Garcia?
“The first time I was here,” Leishman says, “I was like a bit of a deer in headlights, I guess. I found myself looking around a little bit too much and not concentrating on getting the ball in the hole.” Well the concentration level was with him on Day 1 as he carded 7-birdies against 1-early bogey on the very first hole. We’ll call that nerves. He then lit it up with birdies on holes 3, 8, 10 and then four consecutive holes on 13-16 to finish with a 6-under 66.
Sergio also had a day of days for he had a bogey-free round, his first and best ever at the Masters in all his 14th appearances. Garcia, still seeking his first major title at age 33, has often struggled with Augusta’s tricky greens. He has only two top 10 finishes in 14 previous Masters.
“It’s obviously not my favorite, my most favorite place, but you know, we try to enjoy it as much as we can each time we come here,” Garcia said. “Sometimes it comes out better than others, but today it was one of those good days. And you know, let’s enjoy it while it lasts. A very quick start for Sergio but a tournament is not won on Day 1. It takes four days of consistent play and I don’t think Sergio has that consistency in his bag.”
The feel good story of the day: Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China. He played a nervously steady 1st round after he rammed home a birdie putt on 18 to complete a surprising 73. Yes, he made bogeys here and there but he also made some unbelievable recoveries with long par putts and birdies that brought him back into the mix of conversation. A 1-over par from a 14-year old is amazing on such a stage as the Masters. Let’s see how he fairs on Friday.
Our ‘Favorites’ didn’t knock themselves out of the tournament by any means.
Rory McIlroy struggled with his short game and missed some makeable putts but finished at -1, 71.
Phil Mickelson was Phil Mickelson. Birdie, bogey, errant drives, spectacular shots from impossible locations, finished -1, 71.
Defending champ, Bubba Watson struggled all day and finished at +3, 75.
And my favorite to win the 77th Masters Championship, Tiger Woods shot a -2, 70. And the 70 bodes well for Woods, who has not won a green jacket since 2005. The four-time winner — tied for second most in tournament history with Arnold Palmer — has shot 70 in five opening rounds in his career in the Masters. He won three of those years so we won’t press the ‘panic button’ yet.
Dustin Johnson also had a great start along with Jim Furyk so again, stay tuned for a great Friday.0