Alex Perry wraps up the talking points of the opening day at Augusta, including Bryson DeChambeau’s entertaining start
I still can’t get my head around the fact that, before Thursday, the last shot we saw played at the Masters was that Tiger Woods’ putt for a fifth Green Jacket and major number 15. It feels like a lifetime away, and yet it was only 19 months. Perhaps it’s because so much has happened since then.
So it came as no surprise that this wretched year looked to have struck again when, with just a handful of players on the course, the horn went to haul them back inside. The storm passing over Augusta, Sky Sports’ Nick Dougherty kept telling us, was settling in until at least midday.
But instead of that predicted five-hour delay it ended up being around half that and, unless they squeeze every drop of daylight out of Saturday and Sunday, a first Monday finish at Augusta since 1983 is on the cards.
Here are all the (other) talking points from day one of the 2020 Masters…
Get your tickets to the DeChamShow
When we did finally see some action it worked out rather nicely because the headline act, Bryson DeChambeau, was pegging up to get his round underway.
For weeks all we’ve talked about is how the US Open champion is going to destroy Augusta. There was talk of a 48-inch driver, and he said in his pre-tournament press conference that he would be playing the par-72 course as a par 67 – presumably treating the par 5s as par 4s and the 350-yard par-4 3rd as a par 3.
You could almost hear the sniggers from inside the Augusta offices when he pulled his tee shot at the 11th – his second – so far left he was forced to play a provisional.
And while he rescued par, there was no such luck at the par-5 13th, where he found some pines, then a bush, threw in another provisional, then duffed a chip and missed a 12-footer. How does that saying go? A double bogey that will have felt like a triple. Something like that.
But he soon found his rhythm and managed to birdie the remaining three par-5s. Or was it par them? This is confusing. Why did he throw us off with all this 67 talk? Maybe it’s all part of his diabolical plan.
Anyway he finished with a 70.
And probably the most entertaining 70 ever recorded.
A Casey of the Thursdays
DeChambeau will start the second round five off leader Paul Casey, who rolled back the years with five birdies and an eagle at the 2nd for a 7-under 65 start.
He also rolled back the years with his Nike shirt that wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Paul, mate, you’re the wrong side of 40 to dress the way you do.
He doesn’t care, he leads the Masters by two.
And of course his post-round interview was entertaining.
“I’ve never been so happy to pass a Covid-19 test in my life!” he joked. “The kids were denied from going out on play dates last week. You can’t go on play dates, dad’s got to go to the Masters next week.”
Never change, PC.
Tiger Woods was 28/1 at the start of play, which is absurd given he’s a) the defending champion, and b) Tiger Woods. Anyway, he showed them with a 4-under 68 – his first bogey-free round in a major since the 2009 PGA. Only Jordan Spieth in the last 25 years has carded a better opening round as defending champ.
Lee Westwood carded the same score. The Englishman, who is making his 19th start at Augusta and has a couple of runner-up finishes to his name, made the turn in 31 before a 1-over-par back nine for a 68.
Of the afternoon starters, Justin Thomas was sailing at 5-under through 10 when they were called back in, while Dustin Johnson is two back of his fellow one-time major champion.
Kevin Na hit every green in regulation – including two of the par-5 holes in two. That is a good thing, I know. But he had 39 putts.
Jordan Spieth opened with a birdie only to crumble thanks to a double bogey at 16. What is it with him and par 3s at Augusta?
Rory McIlroy did no one’s stress levels any good with a bogey at the 1st, but cancelled it out with a birdie at 8 before the hooter went. He will have appreciated the timing but once again it just didn’t look like he was going to get going.
The same goes for Brooks Koepka, who will resume at 2-over-par.
And the ugly
Incredibly, Paul Casey’s shirt wasn’t the worst on display.
I know Hideki Matsuyama generally has a rep for dressing in the dark, but this is next level.
To be fair if a Big Golf Company were throwing cash at me I’d wear a Plymouth Argyle shirt if they asked.
Shot of the day
There were plenty of contenders, but this one tips it for me…
I think it’s because not only has he holed out from the sand for eagle, but because he’s roughly one millimetre out from it being in the water.
Stat of the day
Well the Na thing is already taken so back once again to the Raynegade Master for this beaut…
Tiger freakin’ Woods, man.
Right, that’s enough from me. Same time tomorrow? See you there. Bring beer.
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