Charley Hoffman the surprise leader at the Masters
Charley Hoffman carded a brilliant opening round seven-under 65 to open up a four shot lead after the first day’s play of the 81st Masters.
The American was two-under through his opening nine holes but a run of five birdies in six holes on the back nine took him away from the chasing pack to open up a comfortable first-round advantage – the biggest since 1941.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 6, 2017
Four shots behind Hoffman is Masters debutant William McGirt, who shot a gutsy round of 69 to put himself right in contention.
It’s not just the American’s who are dominating though as six Englishman occupy the top 25 places on the leaderboard. Defending champion Danny Willett started his defence with a double bogey and followed that with a bogey on the par-5 second hole, but a strong display in tough conditions helped last year’s champion grind out a one-over-par 73 and eight shots back.
Matt Fitzpatrick at one point was the solo leader at three under but a double at the last saw the young Yorkshireman post a one-under 71 and share fourth place alongside fellow counterparts Justin Rose and Andy Sullivan.
The top Englishman though is Lee Westwood, who just simply loves Augusta. An up and down front nine was quickly forgotten after a brilliant run of five straight birdies on the back nine leaving him just five shots back at two under par.
Elsewhere, Jordan Spieth finds himself 10 shots off the lead after a disappointing round of 75 which was really ruined on the par-5 15th hole. Spieth made a splash with his approach shot and ended up making a quadruple-bogey nine on a hole that has historically been the easiest on the course.
Rory McIlroy, like many others on this first day, struggled early on but saved his round on the back nine. Crucial par saves at 10, 11 and 12 were backed up with birdies at 13, 15 and 16 to help the Northern Irishman card a round of 72 and put himself just outside the top 10 heading into the second round.
The day belonged to Hoffman though, a truly magnificent round in tough conditions. The question is can he keep up this blistering form over the next few days?