Day 1 at this Experiment in Green went okay. It started out horribly, but got real good real quick. The downside is that the first round isn’t over.
Jack and Gary hit the ceremonial first tee balls a few minutes before 7:00 am, and the golf started immediately after, even in the rain. Except after just 45 minutes, thunderstorms materialized in the area and they sounded the horn to halt play. Roughly a 3 hour wait later, play resumed around 10:20 am with everyone dealing with a soggy Augusta National.
Two things about this: 1) the course drains soooooooooooooooo well, especially considering all the hills and the low areas. And their sub-air system dries out the greens quickly (ask me about it in the comments if you don’t know). And 2) although the weather cooperated the rest of the day, there were still mudballs from drives landing in soft areas. And players were not allowed to “lift, clean, & place” or have “preferred lies” - I don’t think the Masters has ever allowed those to be put into effect.
48 of the 94 rounds were completed, so roughly half. And sure enough, the later tee times only got in about 7 holes. 50 of those players are under par (either finished or under par so far), so the soft conditions translated to good scores. But even players admitted the course was drying out. We can expect both the fairways and greens to be firmer, and faster, tomorrow.
Paul Casey leads at 7 under par. Behind him are Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffle at 5 under par and in the clubhouse. Wunderkind Justin Thomas is also 5 under par, still has 8 holes to play in his opening round. There’s a large group at 4 under including 47 year old Lee Westwood (probably best player to have never won a major), Hideki Matsuyama, Matthew Wolff, and a certain Big Cat. Yes, Tiger birdied the par 5s on the second nine, and almost holed out on 16, but more importantly didn’t have a bogey to blemish his card. He was in control for the most part, hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. He tied his best opening round score, so this bears watching.
For the Bulldogs in the field, Kiz went out early and bogeyed his first 2 holes but steadied the ship and shot 3 under over his final 16.
Bubba was 2 under par after 5, then turned at 2 over par after a double at 18. He did birdie the par 5 2nd hole, his last of the day, so he has 7 holes left.
Brendon Todd played 7 holes and only 2 were pars. He sprinkled in a couple of birdies and a couple of bogeys, but carded a double bogey on the short par 4 3rd hole.
Those like Todd and Bubba who have to finish their first round will do so right around 7:00 am. The practice area will be lit up like a; I don’t know, a tree of some fashion with lots of light; in the early morning hours so the players can warm up then start their round shotgun style. Once the first round is complete, those players will go right back out there and start their second round. The Thursday early groupings will go out last Friday, and we can expect that the second round will also be called because of darkness. Watch this space.
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