The opening round at the Masters got underway on time, but it didn’t stay on schedule for long. A three-hour rain delay left us twiddling our thumbs on Thursday, but when the golf finally arrived, it delivered. The leaderboard is crowded with stars, and we seem to be set up for a Masters to remember.
First things first, gotta discuss the conditions. Three quarters of an inch of rain fell on Augusta National early Thursday morning. As a result, the golf course is playing as soft as you’ll ever see it. Balls stop dead in the fairways, plug on the greens with long irons and fairway woods, and players are taking lines at pins that would be impossible with firm conditions. There’s also more thick rough than usual, which eliminates some recovery-shot possibilities.
Did any of that take away from our enjoyment of the action? Absolutely not. We’re lucky to see Augusta National at all this year. Yes, a November Masters is different, but the tournament is off to a great start, and we’re looking forward to the next three days.
Because of the rain delay, Thursday’s afternoon wave will have to play somewhere between 23 and 27 holes tomorrow. ESPN will begin coverage at 7:30 a.m. EST on Friday.
Here are some observations from what we did see on Thursday:
- Defending champion Tiger Woods shot a bogey-free opening round for the first time in his Masters career. After a clutch up-and-down on No. 10, his first hole, Tiger played mostly stress-free golf on his way to an easy-looking 68. He moved the ball both ways off the tee, controlled his approach shots, and rolled in a few mid-range putts. His recent play has been uninspiring to say the least, so this performance was a surprise. But are going to complain about Tiger Woods being in contention at the Masters? No. No, we will not complain about that.
- Paul Casey is the 18-hole leader after a flawless 65. The Englishman has five career top 10s at the Masters but has never come all that close to winning.
- A popular pick going into the week, Xander Schauffele started with three straight birdies today. He sits in solo second at the moment, exactly where he finished in 2019 (T-2).
- Somehow, some way, Bryson DeChambeau opened with a 70 on Thursday. Whether it was all the hoopla around him in the run-up to the event that got to him or just a fit of mediocre form, Bryson did not have his best stuff during his opening round. He struggled with a two-way miss off the tee for much of the day, opting for fairway woods off tees where he wasn’t comfortable with the driver. Still, Bryson is one good round from being squarely in contention heading into the weekend.
- Lee Westwood, a man with 19 top 10s in major championships but no wins, fired a first-round 68. After two years without a Masters invite, the grizzled veteran is back with yet another chance at Augusta National.
- Justin Thomas (-5 through 10), Adam Scott (-4 through 10), Matthew Wolff (-4 through 11), and Dylan Frittelli (-4 through 9) have the best in-progress rounds from the Thursday afternoon wave. All will finish up in the morning and have a shot at overtaking Paul Casey’s lead.
- Don’t sleep on Bernhard Langer (-3 thru 10) and Larry Mize (70)! Both 60-somethings are hunting their millionth made cuts at Augusta.
- The new MyGroup feature on Masters.com and the Masters app is remarkable. Not only does it curate shots quickly, but the transitions between the players you bookmark are impeccable. Year after year, the Masters raises the technology bar, and 2020 is no different.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Fried Egg Stories, Episode 11: Always Greener – The American Pursuit of Perfect Turf
Even in November, Augusta National looks flawless. But why is it that we get so excited about green, uniform grass? In this edition of our audio documentary series, we dig into the backstory of America’s obsession with perfect turf. Our guests are Russ Myers, Ted Steinberg, George Waters, Derek Duncan, and John Jeffreys. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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