AUGUSTA, Ga. —Dustin Johnson and his refractory behind competence have cold from this 81st Masters, yet Mother Nature many positively did not. The sleet that jam-packed Augusta National for most of a final 3 days mercifully ceased hours before a initial turn commenced, yet a zephyr continued to howl, withdrawal a route of relocating loblollies, vibrating congregation and smashed scorecards in a wake.
Charley Hoffman, meanwhile, seemed to play in a vacuum.
Competing in his fourth Masters, a four-time PGA Tour leader put together what competence have been a best turn of a year and arguably one of a biggest initial rounds in Masters history: a nine-birdie, seven-under 65—including 6 birdies in his final 8 holes—on a day when a scoring normal was a towering 10 strokes north of that.
We’ll leave it to Jim Nantz and Jimmy Roberts to discuss where Hoffman’s opening turn ranks among other good initial rounds during a Masters—Greg Norman’s 63 in 1996 was also 10 strokes improved than a margin average—but it was undoubtedly epic stuff, done some-more considerable still by a fact that he had dual three-putts and a H2O turn on 13.
Said Hoffman, “For skip of any improved words, it was a dream.”
Hoffman, 40, kick a moisture-wicking pants off a pre-tournament favorites, including Rory McIlroy (72), Jason Day (74), and Jordan Spieth (75). He didn’t need to worry about fending off a world’s hottest actor (yes, Johnson), who withdrew on Thursday afternoon after straining his behind in a bizarre part during his let house a day earlier. Johnson pronounced he was racing outward to pierce his automobile when he slipped down a moody of 3 steps. He landed awkwardly on his bend and reduce back, injuring both.
Johnson’s standing for a contest was still in doubt when he arrived during a march on Thursday. As he warmed adult on a operation and spoke to contest officials, DJ Watch was in full effect. Golf Channel gave him a O.J.-Bronco treatment, following his each step from cameras high above. After some apparent hemming and hawing with his caddie-brother (Austin) and manager (Butch Harmon), Johnson done it to a 1st tee for his 2:03 p.m. starting time, that seemed to prove he would give it a go. But moments after he topsy-turvy course, determining he wasn’t game-ready. “It sucks unequivocally bad,” he pronounced after in matchless DJ fashion.
Four strokes behind of Hoffman is another warn contender: Masters rookie William McGirt, son of Lumberton, N.C, and some-more mini tours (the Carolina Mountain Tour, anyone?) than we ever knew existed. “Sneaky short” (his words), McGirt plotted his proceed around a slopes of Augusta like a master tactician, posting 4 birdies opposite a sole bogey.
“I adore it when it’s tough,” McGirt woofed.
How tough was it?
Spieth arrived on a tee during a 12th hole looking to overcome a demons that have condemned him given he done a quad on a diabolical par-3 in a final turn a year ago. Vanquish them he did, with a slight par, yet 3 holes later, during a par-5 15th, that was personification passed into a wind, Augusta struck again. After laying adult with his second shot, Spieth spun his proceed off a front of a immature and into a water. A integrate of scabby shots and a three-putt later, he had carded nonetheless another quad.
“There is such a thing as a good spook out here during a moment,” Larry Mize, a 1987 champion, pronounced after his turn of 74.
But a good quad? Not so much.
It was that kind of day, though. Balls oscillated. Gusts blew silt out of a bunkers. Club preference was maddening, as was factoring in a zephyr on a greens.
“It’s some-more like an Open Championship,” Englishman Andy Sullivan pronounced after a one-under 71. “The gusts are only killer. Adam [Scott] had a putt on 17 and it is true downhill, and it roughly blew behind adult a hill.”
Kevin Chappell, who also sealed for a 71, pronounced he was in “survival mode.” Fred Couples, personification in his 32nd Masters, said, “I’ve never seen it like this.” Added 59-year-old Scotsman Sandy Lyle after a 74, “You can’t get too greedy—you could get your backside spanked.” (Sandy, a tenure is “ass-kicking” on this side of a pond.)
Lee Westwood insincere his prevalent position among a early leaders in a major. After a messy 39 on a front, he ran off 5 uninterrupted birdies starting during a 13th to stand to dual under, 5 behind of Hoffman. Lurking in a logjam of 8 players during one underneath are Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and 46-year-old Phil Mickelson, who claimed to “love” a extreme conditions since it take reduction gifted players out of a mix.
“The zephyr is going to increase your misses,” Mickelson said, “and a lot of a guys that aren’t informed with this march and where we can go to on certain holes for certain pins will skip in a wrong mark and finish adult creation vast numbers.”
The day began with a gloomy reverence as a bar respected Arnold Palmer on a 1st tee. With Palmer’s immature coupler draped over a chair on a tee box, a lifeless Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player struck a rite opening shots. Among a pros in assemblage were McGirt and Rickie Fowler. Daniel Summerhays, in a initial organisation of a day with Russell Henley, took in a impulse from a putting green.
“I had crow bumps meditative about Jack,” Summerhays said, vocalization for a whole golf world. “He could hardly see a golf ball, he was in tears.”
Whether Hoffman will strew tears of his possess come Sunday is distant too early to say. (Surely we remember how Norman’s week finished after that opening 63 in ’96?) And that’s a law Hoffman good knows.
“There wasn’t a ton of vigour today,” he said. “You’re only perplexing to make ends meet. Just wish to start attack a fairways so we can strike a immature and have a ability to make a putt.
“Obviously going to nap on a lead during a vital championship here during Augusta National is not going to be a easiest thing. we demeanour brazen to it, and we demeanour brazen to a plea a subsequent 3 days.”
Wind, sleet or shine.
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