Friday, November 13, 2020

Masters leaderboard

 


Golf balls stopped on slopes, leaving players putts they’d never seen before. Long-iron approach shots came to rest within inches of their pitch mark. Wedges spun backward, forcing adjustments unforeseen in most Masters Tournaments.


Augusta National Golf Club’s greens were already soft Thursday before a morning downpour created puddles on fairways, and forced a three-hour delay. Once play resumed, the competitors pounced, capitalizing on a receptive golf course in light wind, warm temperatures and a sunny sky.


More than half the field (50 of 92 players) was under par when darkness fell with the afternoon wave of tee times still on the course. While they were out there, players attacked hole locations and chased birdies, climbing the leaderboard by keeping the pedal to the floor.


Round 1 Photos


Soft fairways provided greater margin for error off the tee. The docile conditions forced the players to adjust their game plan.



“Yeah, you're kind of going at pins that you wouldn't really feel that comfortable with,” Xander Schauffele said after an opening 67. “There's so many spots where your ball will stay. It was just really strange. That's what I meant by it felt wrong in terms of kind of like the ball plugging or a putt being really slow or something not being very fast.”


Schauffele left several medium-range putts well short in the middle of his round. In only his third Masters, his lack of experience may have been an asset.


“On a day like today, if you do put it in the fairway, you kind of can position yourself and short side yourself almost and leave balls where you couldn't before,” Schauffele said. “So it was really strange in terms of ‑‑ I was talking to Henrik (Stenson) just now. I was saying ‑‑ I mean, I'm sure it was harder for him to deal with. He's been out here more than I have. I'm not scarred by what Augusta is normally like.”


Defending champion Tiger Woods didn’t see the breaks in the greens he’s learned during 23 appearances that have produced five green jackets.


“I missed everything on the high side,” he said after an opening 68. “Putts just aren't moving, so it's just different with as slow as they are and then with the weather delay, the amount of rain they've had.”


Jason Day also struggled to find the feel around the greens. Ordinarily a 2-under 70 is a fine opening round in the Masters, but the Australian, who has a 71.27 stroke average in nine appearances, felt he let shots slip away.


“It's not that intimidating right now because of how slow the greens were playing out there,” he said. “Obviously, I know that the greens will speed up over the weekend, but, yeah, that was a little bit disappointing.”


The 2018 champion Patrick Reed felt the fairways became firmer as the day progressed.


“It definitely was wet,” he said. “But with how much rain they've had throughout the past couple nights and also how much rain they've had today, the golf course held up really nicely,” he said. “At the same time, it's nothing you wouldn’t expect. I mean, any time you come on this property, whether it's hot, whether it's cold, whether it's raining, whether it's dry, it always seems to be in perfect shape.”


As the sun began to set, the loudest sound at Augusta National was the Sub Air system, sucking the moisture out of the ground. With sunny skies in the forecast, the players know the course will continue to dry out and pose a stiffer challenge as the week unfolds.


“This golf course, to me, exposes what a guy has got,” first-round leader Paul Casey said. “ I'm not saying it's the ultimate test. There are different types of tests of golf around the world, but this particular test you have to do certain things very, very well, and predominately the best players in the world always rise to the top this week.”


Paul Casey’s 65 leads abbreviated first round at Masters

A familiar Tiger Woods returns at Augusta National after opening 68

Webb Simpson rides par 5s in first round to another strong Masters effort

Xander Schauffele continues strong Masters play in opening round

Patrick Reed keeps finding birdies for strong opening Masters round

Bryson DeChambeau's big-bombing plan goes awry in opening round of the Masters

Louis Oosthuizen’s approaches pay off in Masters opening round of 68

Augusta’s Larry Mize shoots lowest Masters score since 2009

Recap: Some former winners sit out Masters Champions Dinner

Seven former Masters Champions were absent at Tuesday’s dinner, the most since Ben Hogan created the Masters Club in 1952.

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