On a beautiful day in Augusta, Georgia, those responsible for setting up the pin locations sat back and enjoyed their handiwork.
No warm handshake to welcome players to the first major of the year. Instead, players were greeted on the 1st hole with a tricky back right pin. Then front right on 3. Number 4 was 230+ yards as a par 3. The flag on 6 was on the back left shelf and that is just plain hard. Then there was #15 - I don’t know the
body ball count, but defending champion Sergio Garcia scored a THIRTEEN on the par 5 (5 balls in the pond fronting the green). Needless to say the course let folks know they weren’t at their local muni or a resort course in the California desert.
Relatively, there were some good scores recorded. The leader was Tony Finau, who dislocated his ankle less than 24 hours before his tee time, popped it back into place, and played through to a 4 under par 68. Who says golfers aren’t athletes? By the way, Finau is 6/4”+ and can dunk a basketball. Seriously.
Notice I said was Tony Finau. Because about four or give groups behind Tony was a certain Jordan Spieth. Who has a win, two 2nd place finishes, and a T11 in four attempts in Augusta. With just above average length, he took advantage of the four par 5s. He birdied 2, eagled 8, birdied 13 and 15. Actually, his birdie on 13 turned into birdies on 14, 15, 16, and 17 for 5 birdies in a row (Tiger Woods played the par 5s in even par). An all-world, other-wordly, crazy-recovery bogey on 18 was only his second blemish on the day. Spieth ends up shooting 66, 6 under par, and has now led 9 rounds at the Masters. Same as Tiger. Half as much as Jack.
Brian Harman was out pretty early, but had double bogeys on the long par 3 2nd hole and the par 4 7th hole. But a 2 under par 34 on the second nine righted the ship and he finished with 73, just 7 off the lead.
Bubba stayed away from the big numbers, but also the low numbers. 2 bogeys before a birdie on the par 5 15th, and he also finishes with 73.
Henley bogeyed 4,5,8, and 9 (8 being a par 5 and cardinal sin to bogey) but birdies on the 11th, 13th and 14th brought him back to the right side of the leaderboard. His 33 on the second nine got him all the way back to... you guessed it... 73
Kisner was a little more inconsistent, as he carded 6 pars in his first 13 holes. A double and two bogeys are included in that, as well as 4 birdies. Another birdie at 16 got him to red numbers and he eventually posted an even par 71.
Friday tee times:
Henley tees off at 9:25 am EDT.
Kisner puts peg to ground at 9:58 am EDT.
Harman gets the afternoon going at 12:10 pm EDT
And Bubba catches the prime TV coverage at 1:49 pm EDT.
TV coverage is technically on ESPN starting at 3:00 pm EDT. But there is extended coverage at Masters.com, and ESPN will give sneak peaks most all morning and early afternoon. Golf Channel will show folks on the range and putting, with more analysis than you could wish for. If you really wish for it.
Enjoy the day, and as always...