With an errant second on the thirteenth, Bubba Watson finally ends up with a fiendish chip from nearly beneath a bush in the back of the inexperienced. He takes out a five-wood (if the commentators noticed it proper) and pushes the ball down the ludicrously speedy placing floor. It stops – simply – on the perimeter on the alternative aspect of the inexperienced – and he knocks within the putt, permitting himself a mild fist bump in celebration. That was a crazily good up-and-down from the place he ended up, in one of many worst potential spots round that inexperienced.
Hideki Matsuyama turns into our new outright chief on -4. That is even if he practically sends his second shot into Rae’s Creek on the thirteenth. Fortunately for him, that second shot (which is barely quick and proper) bites into the steep financial institution by the water, and stops. He makes a superb fist of an insanely robust chip, which bounces and rolls again down the hill in the direction of the flag, and drains the putt for a birdie. Nicely performed.
In the meantime, Webb Simpson rolls in a positive birdie putt on the par three twelfth to maneuver to -3.
-4 Matsuyama (13)
-3: Simpson (12), Kim (13), Bezuidenhout (12), Casey (9), Leishman (5)
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Regardless of being dressed like an ice cream, the champion Dustin Johnson has simply holed a shocking uphill chip on the eleventh, which strikes him again to even par. That’s completely class. He raises each fingers in celebration earlier than the usual fist-bump along with his caddie.
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Si Woo Kim has simply bogeyed the par-five fifteenth, a cardinal sin, and drops again out of the group of leaders on three beneath. He overclubs his second shot over the water by fairly far, then sends his chip, in the other way, into the drink. C’est la vie. To offer him his due, he hits an excellent chip from the drop zone and can take the bogey.
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Casey eagled the eighth in beautiful type to maneuver to 3 beneath, crushing an extended iron to eight toes, above the opening, and rolling within the eagle putt with minimal of fuss.
Paul Casey and Marc Leishman have now moved to -3! Leishman hits a magnifcently-judged lengthy birdie putt from off the inexperienced on the fourth, judging the tempo to perfection, permitting the ball to interrupt from left to proper and nestle into the opening. On the third he’d already holed a seven- or eight-footer which stopped on the lip of the cup and dropped in. What a begin.
-3: Zalatoris (15), Kim (13), Matsuyama (10), Bezuidenhout (9), Casey (8), Leishman (4)
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Koepka, sporting a surprising pink cap, hits a putt with a giant right-to-left break from simply off the inexperienced at 11. However he doesn’t give it practically sufficient tempo and it dies away effectively earlier than the opening. He’ll have one other putt for his par – and he makes it – from 4 toes or so. He’s +1 for his spherical.
A chip-in for Ian Poulter from some time again, over on Masters Twitter. He’ll be completed in time to observe the Arsenal recreation, so issues are wanting up all spherical.
Sky Sports activities simply indulged in some prolonged evaluation of McIlory’s driving approach, however fortunately we’re again to the reside photos now, in time to see McIlroy himself play a superb method shot to 18 toes or so on the ninth.
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McIlroy birdies the eighth, and he’s again to +2, after three straight bogeys earlier than that.
Thanks, Scott. I be a part of the motion with Tyler Strafaci having a horrible time on the par-four ninth. He had an impossibly quick putt from simply off the again of the inexperienced, which he barely touched however ended up rolling allllllll the way in which off the placing floor, and he’s simply needed to chip again on. Basic Augusta. He finally ends up taking a double bogey six, and goes to +3.
Zalatoris has dropped again to -2 now leaving three gamers on -3: Kim, Matsuyama and Bezuidenhout.
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Proper, that’s me off to tuck into a big bowl of Hamburger Helper, the one food-flavored foodstuff to be marketed by a performing golf glove. Luke McLaughlin will take you thru the subsequent hour. See you once more quickly!
Will Zalatoris eagles 15! An ideal drive down the center, and a second hit from the most effective a part of 200 yards to 10 toes. He rolls within the putt with out fuss, completely paced, and the younger Californian joins the leaders. Some positive crystal heading his means. Kim Si-woo joins him within the main group by following his birdie at 12 with one other at 13.
-3: Zalatoris (15), Kim (13), Matsuyama (10), Bezuidenhout (9)
-2: Simpson (9)
McIlroy seems a busted flush already, his hunt for that profession slam prone to proceed for an additional 12 months. He sends his tee shot at 7 into the bushes down the left. He can’t manufacture a hook out, and sends his second means proper of the inexperienced. His chip isn’t any good, and two putts later he finds himself already in hassle at +3. One more terrible begin to a serious event. That is turning into previous.
A much-needed birdie for Lee Westwood. It comes on the par-five eighth, the signature shot of his 4 being a barely annoyed however finally useful lash with a fairway wooden from sand. He’s again to +3 … although pulling his drive at 9 into the pines down the left doesn’t recommend a sustained salvage job is on the playing cards. He will get a fortunate bounce out into the primary reduce, however that’s not the best angle to be approaching the inexperienced.
Robert MacIntyre hits his first bump in his Augusta profession, coming off birdie at 2 to report bogey at 3. He’s again to stage par, and with reference to the 24-year-old from Oban, right here’s Nick Lewis: “Fascinating piece in, effectively, ahem, one other newspaper, immediately about younger Bob’s Shinty background. Loads of the lads at my membership, Kyles of Bute are or had been Shinty gamers. It was my nice misfortune to be despatched out with a few these younger blades on a medal final yr. Inky and Goat. Jings, crivens, assist ma boab (me neither) can the buggers hit it a distance. Professional size off the tee, I swear. One thing about that pure swing they’ve been doing since age three. Intimidated? Not ‘arf, sailor. Undecided I’ve recovered but.”
Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, has been having fun with a late profession resurgence. A win on the unofficial fifth main, the Gamers, got here in 2018. He’s completed within the high ten on the US Open on two of the final three events, and within the high ten right here at Augusta within the final two years. The 35-year-old North Carolinian goes alongside properly immediately, as effectively, birdies at 7 and eight taking him to inside a shot of Matsuyama and Bezuidenhout’s lead.
-3: Matsuyama (10), Bezuidenhout (8)
-2: Kim (12), Simpson (8)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout joins Hideki Matsuyama within the lead at -3. A birdie at 8, the results of a mild chip from 50 yards to 3 toes, takes him there. A dropped shot for Viktor Hovland at 9, the results of a three-putt from an unattainable place on this famously warped inexperienced, means he’s handing over 37. He’d have taken that whereas strolling off the first after that triple bogey. In the meantime Brooks Koepka turns in level-par 36, having responded to dropping that stroke at 7 with birdie at 8 and strong par on 9. Bubba, the third member of that group, additionally turns in stage par.
The early starters are starting to make it again to the clubhouse. Michael Thompson, the 3M Open winner, playing cards a level-par 72, his spherical salvaged by good work on the par fives coming house: birdie at 15, eagle at 13. His enjoying accomplice, the early chief Hudson Swafford, indicators for a one-over 73. Matt Jones, having dropped 5 strokes in six holes between 9 and 14, turns it again round with birdies at 16 and 17, and playing cards 74. And our hero Sandy Lyle? An 81. The 63-year-old legend received’t be making the weekend.
Bernd Weisberger has performed at Augusta 5 instances earlier than, and made the reduce on every event. Again-to-back birdies at 2 and three recommend the 35-year-old Austrian is within the temper to maintain this quietly spectacular sequence in tact. He’s -2 in double-quick time. Lee Westwood nonetheless continues to pattern within the different path, dropping one more stroke, this time at 7, to slide to +4.
An early birdie for Scotland’s nice hope Robert MacIntyre. He joins the massive group at -1 by way of 2. Not such excellent news of his fellow Celt, Rory McIlroy, who pulls a brief par putt extensive at 5, then sends his tee shot on the par-three sixth down the financial institution. He doesn’t get significantly shut along with his bump and run, and he drops to +2.
Will Zalatoris is making his first aggressive begin at Augusta, and the 24-year-old Californian goes round very properly certainly. Again-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 have taken him as much as -1, only a couple off the tempo, and he’s unlikely to be overawed by the place he’s discovered himself in. He lately completed within the high 20 on the Gamers, and ultimately yr’s US Open at Winged Foot, made a hole-in-one throughout his first spherical, and was inches away from making one other. His antics led to his tying for sixth on the finish of the week. A participant very a lot price keeping track of.
An enormous par save by Dustin Johnson on the par-three sixth. Having despatched his tee shot over the again, he’s confronted with a putt up a steep financial institution. It solely simply will get up onto the placing floor. However he steers in a 20-footer to stay at +1 and rabbit-punches the air gently. That could possibly be a momentum shifter. In the meantime up on 10, one other large putt, as Kevin Kisner rattles in a 35-footer for birdie on one of many hardest holes on the course. That’s taking the most effective a part of a shot and a half from the sector, and he’s -2. Kisner has had some close to misses within the large tournaments, coming shut on the 2015 Gamers, the 2017 PGA and the 2018 Open. One other main tilt arising?
Might this lastly be Paul Casey’s yr? He’s come so shut, so typically. The veteran Englishman – 43 now, would you imagine it, regardless of these boyish seems – guides a beautiful wedge into 3, to 6 toes from 80 yards, utilizing the right-to-left camber of the inexperienced to arrange his first birdie of the week. He joins the group at -1, however he’s nonetheless two pictures off the lead, as a result of on the par-five eighth, Hideki Matsuyama has simply knocked his second to twenty toes from 245 yards, and made the eagle putt! He leaps into the lead, and if Casey’s overdue a serious at 43, the identical might be stated of the comparatively youthful 29-year-old Japanese star. He’s obtained to win a giant one sooner or later. He’s simply obtained to. Sunday?
-3: Matsuyama (8)
-2: Kim (10), Conners (10), Bezuidenhout (6)
-1: Munoz (13), Kisner (9), Ancer (8), Rahm (4), Reed (4), Casey (4), Homosexual (2), Hughes (2)
It’s been pars all the way in which for Rory McIlroy by way of the primary 4 holes. A slight grimace as he walks off 4, having left an uphill 25-footer a few turns quick. Nonetheless, it could possibly be worse. Lee Westwood sends a clumpish chip miles previous the opening at 5. Bogey, and he’s already +3. Bogey for his enjoying accomplice Dustin Johnson as effectively; he’s +1. Two bogeys after 5 holes for the defending champion, and he’s already run up 50 % of his 72-hole complete again in November.
Brooks Koepka zig-zags up the seventh just like the Keystone Kops. Tee shot in bother left, second despatched miles proper. He does effectively to bundle his third onto the placing floor from an terrible place, however can’t get anyplace shut. He leaves a 40-footer 5 toes quick, and does effectively to information the right-to-left bogey slider into the cup, limiting the harm. However that’s a distinctly common begin to the week from one of many pre-tournament favourites. Maybe, given the current work on his dodgy knee, that’s to be anticipated? He’s +1.
The in-form Corey Conners joins the leaders at -2. A 3rd birdie of the day, stroking his second at 9 from 150 yards to 4 toes, and he turns in 34. In the meantime some early birdies for major-championship hopefuls Xander Schauffele and Jon Rahm, in addition to 2018 winner Patrick Reed, and the chief board is starting to drip with scrumptious high quality.
-2: Kim (9), Conners (9), Bezuidenhout (5)
-1: Thompson (16), Kisner (8), Matsuyama (7), Ancer (7), Schauffele (3), Rahm (3), Reed (2)
Examine and distinction with Sergio, who has let one other shot slip, this time at 4. That’s three bogeys in his opening 4 holes, and he’s +3. However as Hovland has demonstrated, issues can flip round rapidly at Augusta. See additionally Matt Jones, who was hovering across the high of the chief board throughout the early exchanges, -1 by way of 8. Since then, he’s shipped 5 strokes in six holes, the newest at 14, and he’s +4. Solely poor, heroic, beloved, beleaguered Sandy Lyle, and the 23-year-old English novice Joe Lengthy, are under him on the chief board, each at +8.
Victor Hovland is a sensational expertise. That triple on the first appears an awfully very long time in the past now that he’s confidently trundled in a 25-foot birdie putt on 6. That’s three birdies within the final 5 holes, and he’s again to stage par, having had no truck in any way with the idea of collapsing!
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Augusta Nationwide isn’t giving many pictures away this morning. The course is lengthy and laborious, the greens reduce to the fast. Dustin Johnson’s report rating of 20 beneath par, set 5 months in the past, seems to be secure this week. Particularly because the wind is selecting up already, and is predicted to change into a difficulty later this afternoon. The course is prone to play a bit softer later within the week, thoughts you, with an opportunity of rain later immediately, thunderstorms anticipated tomorrow, and extra rain to return on the weekend … although a lot depends upon which climate service you like and/or belief. Different forecasts can be found.
Lee Westwood takes 4-iron off the tee on the quick par-four third for place …. and flays it into the woods to the suitable. What a enterprise. He then clips the bushes coming again out, and he’s finally left with a monster putt for par. His effort trundles 15 toes previous and he can’t make the saver coming again. A double bogey, a dismal return on one of many simpler holes on the course. He’s +2.
A par-par begin for career-slam chasing Rory McIlroy. It was an actual blended bag on the 2nd, the place he wanged his drive deep into the woods down the suitable. A forensic 200-yard stinger by way of the branches put him again into place, and his chip left a ten-foot birdie putt, however he misinterpret it horribly, so par needed to do. In the meantime up on 5, an absurd up-and-down by Hovland from the massive financial institution on the again saves his par. He’s holding on magnificently at +1.
Hudson Swafford continues to go backwards, flaying his drive at 14 into bushes. One other bogey, and the very early pacesetter is now +1. Given the 33-year-old Floridian’s report within the majors – 4 appearances between 2010 and 2017, 4 missed cuts – you’d anticipate his story to be over. However hey, he can at all times say he as soon as led the Masters.
Dustin Johnson bounces again from his bogey begin with birdie on the beneficiant par-five 2nd. The defending champion returns to stage par. In the meantime there’s now a 3rd participant sharing the lead at -2: the wonderful younger South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who birdies 2 and three. He’s enjoying the Masters for the second time, having completed within the high 40 final November. One other opening spherical of 69? The foundations are there … and South Africans have a positive report round this monitor, with winners in Gary Participant, Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel, plus the practically males Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.
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