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The first round of the 2019 Masters got off to a slow start on Thursday, but the action picked up in the afternoon. The first round at Augusta National featured ideal playing conditions, and 20 players shot 70 or better. Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau ended the day tied at the top of the leaderboard. Masters Leaderboard
Up until 4 pm eastern, it was looking like anything under par was going to be a great score at Augusta National. But the afternoon wave put on a blistering performance for the patrons. Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau each shot 66 in the afternoon while combining for 11 birdies on the back nine. Koepka got the party started with five birdies on the first six holes of the back, and DeChambeau birdied six of his last seven, including a near eagle on the 18th.
Brooksy is notorious for kicking it up a notch in majors—that’s not a new story. Still, his performance on Thursday was a little surprising considering his much-discussed weight changes. He reportedly lost 25 pounds this spring while taking in 1,800 calories a day and preparing for a rumored ESPN The Magazine “Body Issue” photoshoot. BK’s play has been poor of late, and he himself admitted after the Players Championship that he was “out of sorts”because of his weight loss. Today that wasn’t the case.
Bryson has seen the top of the leaderboard at Augusta National before. As an amateur in 2016, he found himself leading the tournament as he headed to the 18th tee on Friday. A triple-bogey seven hurt his chances, and he ultimately finished T-21. He has matured over the last three years and enters this week as a top-five player in the world. Bryson has never been in contention at the Masters on the weekend, but this could be his time.
Normally this section is reasonable in size. Not today. There was a lot of action on Thursday, and we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about what happened.
48-year-old Phil Mickelson birdied five of his last seven holes to get in the house at -5, one shot back of Koepka and DeChambeau. With his remarkable distance #gainz in 2019, he’s better suited than in recent years to contend at Augusta.
Two back of the leaders is the pair of Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter. DJ has finished in the top 10 the last three times he’s teed it up at Augusta, and Poulter has only missed one cut in his Masters career.
Jon Rahm shot 69, his fourth straight round in the 60s at Augusta, and joined the group of Adam Scott, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Kevin Kisner, and Justin Harding at -3.
Corey Conners, the last man into the field after winning the Valero Texas Open, opened with a 70 on Thursday. Conners was in the first group Thursday morning and undoubtedly played through some nerves in his first Masters tournament round.
Add “bending down to kiss his daughter on practice green” to the growing list of somewhat random injuries that Jason Day has suffered during golf tournaments. Day’s back has given him trouble this year, and on Thursday he received mid-round treatments and generally limped around the course. That said, he has never missed a cut at Augusta. It’s a shame that his career is becoming more defined by his laundry list of injuries than by his stellar play.
Paul Casey had a disastrous day, shooting 81. Coming into the week, Casey hadn’t finished outside the top 15 in his last four visits to Augusta.
Tournament favorite Rory McIlroy shot a sloppy 73 on Thursday. He made six bogeys, including a pair on his final two holes.
Jordan Spieth continued his recent struggles with a first-round 75. He played his final 12 holes in even par but never got any momentum going.
Tiger got off to a solid start! The 14-time major winner was tied for the lead after his birdie on the 16th hole, but settled for a 70. After his round, though, Tiger reminded the media that he has won the Masters four times after shooting 70 on Thursday. (Fact check: he has actually done that “only” three times.)
Viktor Hovland leads the amateurs after a first-round 72. A three-putt bogey kept him from having an under-par round, but the reigning U.S. Amateur champion is off to a great start. Jovan Rebula (73), Alvaro Ortiz (73), Takumi Kanaya (73), and Devon Bling (74) are also in the mix to make the cut tomorrow.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat inserted himself into the conversation with a Thursday 69 that includes a back-nine 32. Barn Rat looks to become the first Asian-born player to slip on the green jacket.
Raising the bar
The golf world was abuzz on Thursday morning after the Masters unveiled a revolutionary viewer experience on its website and mobile apps. Now golf fans can now watch every shot by every player mere seconds after the shots are hit. This innovative technology pushes golf coverage toward a new frontier and forces the hand of the other golf tours and organizations. Andy wrote about the long-term ramifications of this turning point. Read here.
Tony Finau sported an ankle brace for Wednesday’s par-3 contest to poke fun at his accident at last year’s event. Video
Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus spoke out about golf technology on Thursday morning. The Masters honorary starters had a lot to say about the golf ball, green-reading books, and much more. Find Will Gray’s article with their comments HERE.
The Latest Podcasts
Episode 129: Geoff Ogilvy – The front nine at Augusta National
Geoff Ogilvy joins the podcast for another Masters episode. Andy and Geoff dive deep into Augusta National, detailing the subtle design features that make the course a masterpiece. In this episode, they discuss the front nine at Augusta, the psychology of playing the course as a competitor, and much more. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Live from the Bixby House: Friday Jr. at the Masters
Brendan and Andy come to you live from the Bixby House with a raw and unedited episode reviewing the first day of the 2019 Masters. We get into the flurry of late activity on Friday Jr. afternoon with Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson going low in the last two groups on the tee sheet. We address Brooksy popping off at the weight-loss haters, and we call out the SMU Physics Department after Bryson completely misused “terminal velocity” to explain why his ball didn’t go in the hole on the 18th. Then we get to the matter of Jason Day and whether the simple fact of “being a good father” has cost him a shot at the Masters this year. We discuss Tiger’s two-under round and what it might mean heading into the weekend. Then Kyle Porter appears to offer some hot takes on the “lost” Jordan Spieth. We do a lightning round of predictions on a few players who might miss/make the cut before wrapping with a Flashback Friday on the year of Woosie and a Masters Fact of the Day on a defunct opposite-field event. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify