Spieth takes control at Augusta but Rory's in the hunt
So what happened on day one at Augusta?
What Augusta demons? Jordan Spieth continued his incredible record around Augusta National as he surged to take the first round lead on a thrilling opening day at The Masters.
Spieth had a back-nine birdie blitz to thank – making five birdies in a row – as he opened up with a six-under-par 66 to take a two-shot lead. The 24-year-old has now led in nine of his 17 Augusta rounds.
It doesn’t really need to be mentioned – but this is far from over. Matt Kuchar is in the mix after a fine 68, as is Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson, who both shot 69 to trail by three.
McIlroy leads the British and Irish charge in what was a largely forgettable opening round for the contingent. Tommy Fleetwood is well placed after he posted an even-par round of 72, playing alongside Tiger Woods, as did the much-fancied Justin Rose.
Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter signed for rounds of 74, while Matthew Fitzpatrick and former champion Danny Willett posted 75. The less said about Ross Fisher (78) and Harry Ellis (86) the better.
The talking points
The attention was firmly on Tiger Woods as he made his highly anticipated return to major golf. Mark Townsend was impressed with what he saw as he battled back to post a respectable score.
For a completely different reason, Sergio Garcia made the headlines. He took a 13(!) at the 15th hole – we have all the gory details right here.
One of the best stories of the day came from Tony Finau. After dislocating his ankle just yesterday in the par-3 contest, he got the all clear from doctors this morning. He then went out to shoot a 68 and held the lead for the majority of the day. James Savage goes into more detail here.
Good morning from Augusta. 19 of the last 21 Masters winners were at/within 5 of the lead after the opening round. Each of the last 12 champions shot under par on Thursday.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) April 5, 2018
If Jordan Spieth leads after round one, he'll have been in front after more than 50% of his 17 Augusta rounds – nine in total.
Tiger Woods, in his 75 Augusta rounds, has also led nine times in total.
— Ben Coley (@BenColeyGolf) April 5, 2018
Jordan Spieth’s leaderboard position after each of his 17 career rounds at Augusta:
Pretty solid. pic.twitter.com/XRfaBYumR4
— Jamie Kennedy (@jamierkennedy) April 5, 2018
No player who has been grouped with Tiger Woods in rounds 1 or 2 of The Masters has gone on to win that week.
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) April 5, 2018
Keep an eye on @haotong_li at the top of the leaderboard… he won @OmegaDDC this year @EuropeanTour . Just like Danny Willett & Sergio Garcia did the year they became #theMasters Champions! [Note from the reliable @JustinRayGC]
— Cara Banks (@CaraBanksGC) April 5, 2018
He said what?!
I was getting sweaty. I switched gloves on 13 and went pin-seeking after that.
– Jordan Spieth on late charge
I was kind of embarrassed. The last thing I wanted was to get pulled out of here on a stretcher celebrating a hole-in-one. It was nothing short of a miracle.
– Tony Finau on his injury and his performance today
Despite the bogey at the last, it’s already looking ominous with Jordan Spieth leading The Masters and the oddsmakers falling over themselves to collapse his price.
But as the Texan knows only too well, there’s a long way to go before the green jacket is decided and there’s still plenty of value out there in the betting market.
Rory McIlroy, at 6/1, obviously appeals given his 69 was his second best opening round ever at Augusta.
But I can’t believe Phil Mickelson is as big a price now – you can get him at 18s – as he was before the tournament.
With each-way down to seventh being offered and Lefty in fine shape after an opening 70, he definitely looks worthy of a pound or two of your cash.
Among the outsiders, Haotong Li (80/1 best price) is getting no respect for a fine 69 on his Masters debut.
The Chinese player has got plenty of game. He stared down McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic and finished third at the Open at Royal Birkdale last year.
He could creep into a place.