The Latest: Only 11 players break par in Masters 1st round
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on the first round of the Masters on Thursday (all times local):
How tough were the conditions in the opening round of the Masters?
Only 11 players broke par Thursday.
Charley Hoffman shot a stunning 7-under 65, but he was in a league of his own with winds gusting close to 40 mph. The only other player in the 60s is William McGirt with a 69.
Lee Westwood shot 70 and eight other players are at 71, a group that includes Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner and Sergio Garcia.
Everyone else is at par and above, including three rounds in the 80s. It’s the fewest players to break par in the first round of the Masters since only nine managed to do it in 2007.
Defending champion Danny Willett opened with a 73. The 2015 champion, Jordan Spieth, made a quadruple-bogey for the second year in a row on the way to 75.
Charley Hoffman has the largest first-round lead at Augusta National in 62 years.
Hoffman’s 7-under 65 in windy conditions gives him a four-shot edge over William McGirt heading to Friday’s second round.
That’s the largest since the 1955 Masters, when Jack Burke Jr. opened with 67 and was four shots ahead of Julius Boros and Mike Souchak.
But, in a reminder that the tournament is never won on Thursday, Burke followed with a 76 that turned his big lead into a six-shot deficit against Cary Middlecoff, who went on to capture the green jacket in a romp.
On a day when it was tough just to break par at the Masters, Charley Hoffman turned in one of the greatest rounds of his career.
Hoffman bounced back from a slow start to shoot a 7-under 65 in the opening round, giving him a commanding four-shot lead in a swirling wind that gusted close to 40 mph.
Hoffman had a shot at birdie on the 18th hole, which would have tied him with Craig Wood in 1941 for the largest lead after the opening round. The 40-year-old American wasn’t able to sink the putt, but he certainly had no complaints about his performance — especially after a pair of bogeys left him at 1 over through No. 5.
He birdied eight of the next 12 holes, including four in a row beginning at the 14th.
This isn’t the first time Hoffman has been in contention at Augusta. Two years ago, he played in the next-to-last group on Sunday but closed with a 74 to finish 10 shots behind winner Jordan Spieth.
Now, it’s Hoffman holding a big lead.
Charley Hoffman is on the way to a remarkable round at the Masters.
The 40-year-old American is 6 under with two holes to play, giving him a three-shot lead in the opening round.
Hoffman had two bogeys in the first five holes, sandwiched around a birdie. After that, he birdied seven of the next 11 holes — even on a day when swirling winds are gusting at more than 30 mph, making it tough just to break par.
There are only 11 players in the red. William McGirt, who shot a 3-under 69, is the lone player within five shots of the lead. No one else has managed to go lower than 1-under par.
William McGirt has become the first player to shoot in the 60s on a challenging day at Augusta National.
The 37-year-old American posted a 3-under 69 in the opening round, a dazzling performance considering the swirling winds were gusting at more than 30 mph.
McGirt is two shots ahead of anyone in the clubhouse and hardly looking like a Masters rookie. He birdied four holes and had only one bogey.
A journeyman player who didn’t even reach the PGA Tour until he was in his early 30s, McGirt qualified for the Masters with his first tour victory last year at the Memorial.
McGirt calls his Augusta debut one of the top four or five rounds of his pro career.
Forty-six is a very good number at Augusta National.
Just ask 46-year-old Phil Mickelson.
Lefty eagled the second hole on the way to a 1-under 71 Thursday, a promising start given the windy conditions as he tries to become the oldest champion in Masters history.
Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he won the last of his six green jackets in 1986. Mickelson will turn 47 in June, which makes him seven months older than the Golden Bear at the time of his historic Masters victory.
With the swirling wind gusting at more than 30 mph, Mickelson says any score at par or better is a good one. But at least the greens were receptive after heavy rains earlier in the week, setting up some good scoring chances.
In addition to the eagle at No. 2, Mickelson had three birdies to go along with four bogeys.
For the second straight round at the Masters, Jordan Spieth had a quadruple bogey on the back nine.
Only it wasn’t at No. 12. And it’s only Thursday.
Spieth was 1 over for the opening round when his third shot on the par-5 15th hit the front of the green and spun back into the water. His fifth shot sailed over the green, and it kept getting worse. He pitched long and went to the front of the green, and then he three-putted for a 9.
That put him at 4 over with three holes to play.
A year ago, Spieth hit two in the water at No. 12 and made a quadruple-bogey that sent him from a one-shot lead to a three-shot deficit and cost him another green jacket.
The wind made the course so tough on Thursday that Spieth had plenty of time to recover.
In fact, he birdied the next hole.
Now that Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the Masters with a back injury, the focus turns to the players who are on the course.
The swirling, gusting wind had made conditions especially tough in the opening round Thursday.
At mid-afternoon, only 10 players are under par.
The clubhouse leaders are Russell Henley and Kevin Chappell of the United States and England’s Andy Sullivan. They all shot 1-under 71.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick is atop the leaderboard at 3 under, but he’s still got three holes to play.
Justin Rose of England and William McGirt of the U.S. are 2 under.
Dustin Johnson has withdrawn from the Masters after injuring his lower back in a fall at the home he was renting for the week.
The world’s No. 1-ranked player arrived at Augusta National on quite a roll, having won his last three starts.
He never took a shot at the first major championship of the year.
Johnson walked to the first hole Thursday, as if he was going to play in the final group of the day, but changed his mind at the last possible moment. Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker teed off while Johnson sauntered back to the clubhouse, a stunning development just hours into the tournament.
His Masters was over before it ever began.
Johnson was injured late Wednesday afternoon when he took what his agent described as a “serious” fall down a staircase.
Dustin Johnson has arrived at Augusta National and apparently will try to play in the Masters despite a lower back injury.
Johnson’s status has been up in the air since late Wednesday afternoon, when he took what his agent described as a “serious” fall down the staircase at a home he’s rented for the week. He was told to remain immobile and begin a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication and icing, in hopes of being able to play.
Johnson is scheduled to go off in the last group for Thursday’s opening round at 2:03 p.m. EDT. With about an hour to go, he headed to the practice range to take a few easy swings and test out his back.
The world’s No. 1-ranked player has won his last three starts.
Phil Mickelson gave his large following a thrill and the early Masters leaderboard a jolt with an eagle on the par-5 second hole.
Mickelson, who at age 46 is seeking his fourth green jacket, landed his second shot about 40 feet right of the flag and made the putt. The gallery, which included Pro Bowl linebacker Vic Beasley of the Atlanta Falcons, went crazy when the putt rolled in, Mickelson smiling and waving in appreciating.
Mickelson followed that up with a birdie on the par-3 fourth and was at 3-under par, one stroke behind early leader Thomas Pieters, who is 4-under through eight holes.
Mickelson is trying to match Jack Nicklaus’ feat as the oldest champion at Augusta. Nicklaus won his sixth Masters crown at 46 years old in 1986.
The winds are picking up at Augusta National, and it’s reflected on the scoreboard.
Only six players are in the red Thursday some 2 1-2 hours into the opening round of the Masters, led by Scott Piercy and J.B. Holmes at 2 under.
Kevin Chappell, Sandy Lyle, Andy Sullivan and Thomas Pieters are at 1 under.
Former champion Trevor Immelman is 4 over as he approaches the turn. Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk and Mike Weir are at 3 over on the front side.
The winds are blowing at 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph. It’s expected to get even more challenging as the day goes on, with gusts of 35-40 mph in the forecast by early afternoon.
With a moment of silence, a few tears and two tee shots, the 81st Masters has begun.
It was the first Masters since 1954 without four-time champion Arnold Palmer, who died in September. Augusta National chairman Billy Payne told thousands crammed around the first tee that the unbearable sadness was surpassed by the love and affection everyone feels from The King.
He asked for a moment of silence, and then turned it over to Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to hit the ceremonial opening tee shot.
A day after storms, the sky was clear and the wind already was rattling the trees.
Among those watching were Butch Harmon and his son, Claude Harmon III, who coach Dustin Johnson. They still did not know if the No. 1 player would recover from his fall on a staircase to tee off later in the afternoon.
Strong winds and a fall down a staircase by the Masters pre-tournament favorite could change the complexion of the season’s first major.
Dustin Johnson, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, injured his lower back late Wednesday afternoon in what his agent described as a “serious” fall down the staircase at a home he’d rented for the week. Johnson goes off in the last group for Thursday’s opening round, but even the late 2:03 p.m. starting time may not give him enough time to recover.
The weather forecast for the region, socked by powerful storms two of the last three days, calls for cool, overcast skies and steady winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. Augusta National can bedevil the world’s best in tame conditions. But strong winds make hitting fairways and approach shots even tougher, and if the greens dry out, putting can turn treacherous.