First Round Masters Recap: Sergio goes low

Sergio Garcia

Sergio Garcia (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

32 players opened the 77th Masters by firing under-par rounds, led by Sergio Garcia and Marc Leishman, who got to 6-under par. They sit one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, and two ahead of a slew of guys at 4-under par. Here are a few thoughts from Thursday’s opening round at Augusta National.
 
Tiger Woods
 
We didn’t get to see much of Tiger Woods today due to the TV coverage starting at 3:00, and the inexplicable decision of him not being in the featured online group, but from what I saw, he seemed in control. He didn’t birdie the par-5 15th, which was a bit of a shock considering his track record there, but he did get two other birdies on par-5’s today. What was more interesting to me was his tee shot on the 13th, which clearly favours a draw. In my time watching Woods at the Masters, he’s very rarely hit driver at 13, preferring to draw it with a 3-wood. The 3-wood is plenty long enough for Woods considering on how far he hits it, so getting to the par-5 green in two shots is never an issue. Much has been made about how he’s been hitting more cuts off the tee, and he took out driver, lined up for another cut and swung as hard as I’ve seen him swing, moving the ball from left to right. Now, it ended up working out, landing in the right rough, and he did go on to make birdie, but it was pretty strange to see him completely break from prior form. I’m not sure if it speaks to him not being comfortable at all with a draw right now, but it’s going to be interesting to see what he does over the next three days.
 
Two holes prior, Woods dropped an F-bomb as soon as he got onto the coverage after his approach into the 11th green. I don’t know why people continue to make a big deal out of this, but if you’re interested, the video is embedded below.
 

 
Also, pretty solid chip here by Woods on the 2nd hole:
 
Tiger-chip-on-2
 
Sergio Garcia
 
Lots of people made reference today to Garcia’s comments about not being good enough to win a major championship last year, but I still don’t think Garcia actually meant that. He’s too good of a player not to win one eventually, and the way he played today proved that point. The 66 tied his best round ever at Augusta, and with the way he’s playing this year, this could be his time to get that first major.
 
Honorary Starters: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus
 
Not much to say here. Three legends of the game starting the tournament never gets old.
 
Palmer-tee-shot Player-tee-shot Nicklaus-tee-shot
 
Playing through pain
 
Mike Weir won the Masters ten years ago, and he’s struggled with consistency and health issues in the last few years. He looked like he was starting to get it back a little bit earlier this year, but he ended up injuring his ribs a few weeks ago. His Masters appearance looked to be in jeopardy, but he decided to play through it, and he fired an even par round. Still though, you could see that his ribs are really bothering him.
 
Mike-Weir-injury
 
Shot(s) of the tournament
 
Jamie Donaldson’s ace on the 180-yard par-3 sixth was the 24th in Masters history, and the sixth in the history of the sixth hole.
 
Donaldson-hole-in-one
 
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was a little wayward on the opening hole, driving his ball into the pine straw. Just in case you didn’t know, Schwartzel is not a lefty.
 
Schwartzel-left-on-1
 
Ian Woosnam goes backwards
 
Ian Woosnam is a former Masters champion, and was previously ranked as the world’s number one player. Unfortunately for him, both of those things happened 22 years ago, and well, this is what happens sometimes.
 
Woosnam Masters
 
If you can find a better golf GIF than that on the internet, I’d be shocked.
 
Other notes from the opening round

  • Fred Couples is amazing. The 53-year old has always loved the Masters, winning it once in 1992 and picking up ten other top-1o finishes. Every year people expect Couples to regress at this event, but he was 4-under par again today. I still challenge anyone to find a smoother swing than Couples.
  • Rickie Fowler’s scorecard today was something else. Six birdies, an eagle and two double bogeys to post a 4-under par.Fowler round 1 masters 2013
  • Don’t really have much to say on the rounds of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood or Luke Donald. All four are well within striking range and will likely be there at the end.
  • Tough open for defending champion Bubba Watson, who fired a 3-over par 75. Earlier in the week, Watson told PTI that his first goal was to make the cut since he had to stick around to present the green jacket anyway, but it’s going to be a struggle to get there now.
  • Tianlang Guan, the 14-year old amateur, ended up shooting a 1-0ver par 73. When I was 14, I was pretty much the worst player on the planet. What this kid is doing is incredible, and if he happens to make the cut, it’s one of the more improbable sports stories of all time.
  • Lastly, after firing a round of 4-over par 76, Ian Poulter had this to say about his performance:
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