Following matching rounds of 6-under 66 and two furious second-nine charges, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau share the 18-hole lead at the 83rd Masters Tournament. Here’s where things stand after Day 1 at Augusta National:
Leaderboard: DeChambeau (-6), Koepka (-6), Phil Mickelson (-5), Ian Poulter (-4), Dustin Johnson (-4), Justin Harding (-3), Adam Scott (-3), Jon Rahm (-3), Kevin Kisner (-3), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-3)
What it means: Koepka is eyeing his fourth major victory in his last seven attempts and his second in a row coming off last year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive. The two-time U.S. Open winner came into this week as the subject of some controversy, given his recent weight loss and its impact on his game. But Koepka appeared in his now-regular, major-championship form Thursday, ripping off five birdies in six holes, including four in a row on Nos. 12-15. That run only came to an end when he missed a 10-footer at No. 16. Although there are, of course, three rounds to play and a host of impressive names in the hunt, a Masters victory would give Koepka three legs of the Grand Slam, with only the Open Championship missing from his resume.
Round of the day: Tied at the top with Koepka is DeChambeau, a four-time winner in 2018 who now looks to take the next step and assert himself as a major champion. Prior to his turning pro, DeChambeau impressed in his first Masters appearance back in 2016, when he made a run at the Day 2 lead and eventually took low-amateur honors with a tie for 21st. One under par through his first 11 holes Thursday, he wouldn’t make another par on his way into the clubhouse, finishing with six birdies and a bogey at No. 14. As you’ll see below, he very nearly played his final three holes in 5 under but instead settled for a birdie-birdie-birdie close.
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Best of the rest: Five-time major champion and three-time Masters winner Mickelson is just one off the pace after an opening 67. Even par through 11, Mickekson – like Koepka and DeChambeau – caught fire late in the day, circling five of his last seven holes, including the 18th. Another victory would make Mickelson, at 48 years and 9 months, the oldest major winner in the game’s history, pushing aside Julius Boros, who took the 1968 PGA Championship at 48 years and five months.
Biggest disappointments: A pre-tournament favorite and an always-at-Augusta favorite, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth, both carded 3-over 75. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the typically steady Paul Casey, who signed for 9-over 81.
Shots of the day: Over his final three holes, DeChambeau nearly aced 16 …
Chipped in for birdie at 17 …
And very nearly holed out for eagle at 18, when his ball, in a bit of fabulous irony, rebounded off the flag stick.
Early quote of the day: “I’ve shot this number and won four coats, so hopefully I can do it again.” – Woods on his first-round 70. Woods has opened with a round of 70 en route to three of his four green jackets.
Late quote of the day: “Oh my gosh, I guess I should have pulled the flagstick.” – DeChambeau, watching a replay of his approach to 18 after the round.