Apr 7th, 2017
The Masters Verdict Day 1
5 Things we learned today...
Words: Keel Timmins Photography: Getty
Wowzers what a day. DJ out and then Charley Hoffman shoots one of the greatest ever rounds at Augusta... welcome to the Masters 2017...
Five talking points from day one of The Masters 2017
With the first round of The Masters 2017 in the books, GolfPunk looks at some of the talking points coming out of the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
1 – Indecisive Johnson
It really did go down to the wire this morning as DJ appeared on the range hitting some small wedge shots before disappearing to get some treatment on his back. He returned to hit longer irons and the driver but looked uneasy as a long chat with his team ensued.
The world No1 made his way to the first tee, only to turn around and head back to the clubhouse to confirm his withdrawal. You have to feel for him as he entered this week the certain favourite being in the form of his life.
2 – Hoffman goes crazy
The round of the year could already be locked up as Charley Hoffman opened up with an incredible round of 65 to lead by four in very tricky conditions. While everyone else was clinging on to a score around par, Hoffman was sauntering around Augusta like he owned the oplace.
The American is not exactly a prolific winner on the PGA Tour, but does have the tendency to get extremely hot out on the course.
He’s played nicely at Augusta before; the Hoff finished ninth two years ago, but there are question marks over his game under pressure, so it will be interesting to see how he plays on Friday with such a big lead already.
3 – Westwood continues love affair with Augusta
A three-over-par front nine looked to be a sign that Lee Westwood would be going yet another major championship without a win. But the Worksop man had other ideas, as five birdies in a row on the back nine catapulted him to third spot on his own and within striking distance.
Westwood came into this event last year not playing greatly but still managed to finish second, and has accumulated six top 10s here over his lengthy career. Nobody could begrudge him a major win, and who knows what can happen if the putter remains sharp for the rest of the week.
4 – Quad falters steady Spieth
The 2015 champion safely negotiated Amen Corner and was going along quite steadily until he found the 15th hole. The par 5 that normally plays as one of the easiest holes on the course played tough today with the swirling winds, and Spieth found the water en-route to a quadruple bogey nine.
The Texan will have work to do tomorrow to try and claw back some shots and keep pace with the leader Hoffman.
5 – Maturing Rory fights back
In previous years, Rory McIlroy would have probably got frustrated after being three-over after 12 holes and perhaps thrown the tournament away. But gutsy scrambling and a late back nine surge turned a poor round into a decent one, as the Northern Irishman heads into the second round with momentum on his side.
The 13th hole was the turning point, as his approach shot from 200 yards into the par 5 plugged into the bank rather than trickling down into the creek. A classy up and down followed and led to another two birdies in the next three holes, eventually signing for a round of level par on a brutal day at Augusta National.