One of the most anticipated Masters is officially off and running, and there’s a familiar name atop the early leaderboard. Here’s how things look after the opening round at Augusta National, where Jordan Spieth leads by two:
Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-6), Tony FInau (-4), Matt Kuchar (-4), Henrik Stenson (-3), Rory McIlroy (-3), Patrick Reed (-3), Haotong Li (-3), Charley Hoffman (-3)
What it means: Spieth is making his fifth career Masters start, but he already has a win and two runner-ups to his credit, along with a T-11 finish last year. His affinity with Augusta National continued in the opening round, where he went out among the late wave and surged to the top of the leaderboard with a surgical second nine and kept the top spot despite making a bogey on the final hole. Finau sits just off the pace after starting the day with doubts about his ability to tee it up, while Kuchar is all too familiar at looking up at Spieth’s name on a major championship leaderboard.
Round of the day: Spieth birdied two of his first three holes to move onto the first page of the leaderboard, but he did his best work in the heart of the closing stretch. Five straight birdies on Nos. 13-17 were capped with an impressive approach to the 17th, and it gave him a three-shot lead at the time. After a hooked drive he stumbled to a bogey on No. 18, but still holds at least a share of the lead for the ninth time in his 17 career Masters rounds.
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Best of the rest: Finau woke up uncertain about his ability to make his Masters debut after twisting his ankle during Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest. But after undergoing a successful MRI, he decided to tee it up and made the most of his opportunity with four birdies in an eight-hole stretch, from Nos. 2-8. One of the longest drivers on Tour, Finau took advantage of both par 5s on the second nine and now has his best-ever position after the opening round of a major.
Biggest disappointment: Whatever chance Sergio Garcia had at back-to-back green jackets are currently sitting at the bottom of the lake in front of the 15th green. Garcia eagled the hole en route to his playoff win last year, but this time around he dumped five balls into the water en route to an octuple-bogey 13 that set a record for the highest score ever on the hole. Garcia bounced back with a birdie on No. 16, but his 9-over 81 beat only amateur Harry Ellis among the 87-man field.
Main storyline heading into Friday: The biggest story, as it has been in Augusta most days since 2015, is Spieth as he continues his quest for a second green jacket from a familiar position. But don’t discount McIlroy, whose quest to complete the career Grand Slam is very much alive after an opening-round 69, while Tiger Woods will need to make a charge after opening with a 1-over 73.
Shot of the day: Amateur Doug Ghim will be taking home some crystal after holing his approach to No. 18 for an improbable eagle. It was actually Ghim’s second eagle on the day, following a made putt on No. 13, as the U.S. Amateur runner-up set the pace for the six amateurs in the field with an even-par 72.
[email protected] holes out from 179 yards on No. 18 for his second eagle of the day. #themasters pic.twitter.com/wAESqDVCos
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 5, 2018
Quote of the day: “It’s Round 1. I know as well as anybody that anything can happen here at Augusta National, so I’m not going to get ahead of myself.” – Spieth