Spieth leads Masters, Tiger grinds his way to T29
He’s at it again. Jordan Spieth, who is playing in just his fifth Masters, has equalled Tiger Woods’ record of leading or co-leading the Masters nine times following a superb opening round 6-under 66 at Augusta National this morning.
The 2015 Masters champion had a rollercoaster round kicking off his round with two early birdies before bogeying the 5th and 7th holes only to bounce back with an eagle at the par-5 8th hole.Jordan Spieth (Credit: PGA Tour)
“It’s round one. I know as well as anybody that anything happens here at Augusta National, not going to get ahead of myself. Just about riding the momentum from last week and off this first round,” Spieth said.
The Texan then turned up the heat to birdie five straight holes from the 13th hole before giving a shot back at the last to head into tomorrow’s second round with a two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.
“I had phenomenal up-and-downs on 10, 11 and 12, kept the momentum going, my hand was slipping a little bit, getting a little sweaty out here, so I switched gloves on 13 fairway and I started pin-seeking after that,” said Spieth.
While the three-time major champion has struggled on the putting greens this season, he was well and truly back in form today, needing just 10 putts across the back nine holes.
While Spieth enjoys a handy lead, there are 19 other players within just five strokes including several former Masters (and major) champions.
Sitting in a seven-way tie for 4th place on 3-under is Open champion Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy is still searching for his first Masters title to complete his career Grand Slam and is well-placed again this year to put the pressure on tomorrow.
Another shot back in equal 11th is Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Australia’s Marc Leishman.
Leishman enjoyed a comfortable first round marred only by a double-bogey at the par-5 15th – the result of an errant chip from off the back of the green finding the water.
In his first round at the Masters since 2015, Tiger Woods managed to grind out a respectable 1-over 73 despite playing the par-5 holes in equal par – the only difference between a good and great round today.
“I played the par-5s very sloppily today,” said Woods.
“That was the difference in the round. If I play half of those [four holes] in 2-under, I’m under par for the day. I had some opportunities to make some birdies and didn’t do it.”
The bizarre round of the day goes to defending champion Sergio Garcia, who carded a 13 at the par-5 15th after hitting five consecutive shots into the water protecting the front of the green.
He equalled the highest single-hole score in Masters history, which was set by Tommy Nakajima in 1978 and again by Tom Weiskopf in 1980.
Cameron Smith was the next best of the Australian field sitting in a tie for 16th place at 1-under with Jason Day and Adam Scott each needing a solid round tomorrow to play the weekend following rounds of 3-over 75.