After waiting 19 long months for the Masters to return on Thursday, Mother Nature made us wait a few hours more. Our patience was rewarded with an electric first round of play, even without the patrons on hand to add to the buzz.
But the opening round isn’t complete just yet. A number of players still have a full nine holes to play, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who posted a bogey-free 33 on his opening nine Thursday evening. He was able to get his tee shot off on the 10th hole, but decided to pick up in the fairway instead of finishing out after the horn sounded (it was the right move, by the way, as there was a huge chunk of mud on his ball).
Just ahead of Johnson at the 11th hole is Justin Thomas, who is on pace to match or beat Paul Casey’s first-round 65. Thomas turned in 32 and then birdied the 10th before his momentum was brought to a halt by the horn. Like Johnson, he was also able to get his tee shot off at No. 11, and he’ll face a 210-yard approach out of the rough when play resumes.
(Scroll down for the latest, minute-by-minute updates)
First-round play is set to resume at 7:30 a.m. ET, with the second round getting underway at 9:35 a.m. The weather appears to be perfect on Friday morning, and more low scores are to be expected. Let’s get it on.
9:03 a.m.: Quite a bit of action in the last 10 minutes, much of it at the par-5 15th. Thomas makes birdie to get to six under, and Brooks Koepka makes eagle to get back to level par. Justin Rose is also surging, having gotten it to five under through 14 holes. And don’t look know, but Phil Mickelson is at four under and he just piped one down the middle at the 18th.
8:52 a.m.: Oh dear. Shades of Tiger Woods at the 15th for Adam Scott. After coming up short on his second and putting it in the water, he took his drop and hit a perfect fourth shot that bounced, hit the pin and rolled all the way back into the water again. That led to a double. Woof. He’s still at two under, though, so not all bad.
8:35 a.m.: My goodness. What a par from Bernhard Langher at the fifth! A poor chip on his third shot left him with a 17-foot, right-to-left swinger to save par and he buries it to stay at four under. What a round the 63-year-old is putting together.
Speaking of great rounds, the sneakiest round belongs to Sungjae Im, and we say sneaky because we haven’t mentioned it yet. He’s five under through 12, and could get to six or even seven with a few good shots at the 13th.
8:30 a.m.: Rory wound up finding his tee shot, but took an unplayable and hacked one back out into the fairway. From 136 yards out, he put his fourth to about 15 feet and then juiced the par putt past and makes six. Bogey is pretty bad at No. 13, but it could have been much worse.
8:22 a.m.: For all the talk of the 13th being a joke of a hole for these players, it’s giving them absolute fits this morning. Obviously, you saw what Rory did below. His playing partner, Dustin Johnson, had to punch out of the pine straw and will have to grind for birdie. Justin Thomas, who is on fire, made par. Yes, it’s extremely short for these guys now, but that’s if they blast a perfect tee shot, which is no guarantee.
8:13 a.m.: It’s been an extremely quiet first round for Brooks Koepka and Rory McIrloy, who have a combined eight majors between them. McIlroy bogeyed the 10th to start his day and has since gone par-par to remain at one over. He should be able to get one, or two, back at 13 aaaaaaaand wait a second. He just hit the worst shot in history at the 13th. Good LORD:
What on earth? That is a snipe hook normally only seen on Saturday morning at your local muni, usually by someone with the shakes from a raging hangover. He re-teed and put it in play. Playing for bogey now. As for Brooks, he nearly holed out for eagle on his approach at 13, then missed the short birdie putt. Rough start for these two studs.
8:07 a.m.: Birdie at the second for Frittelli. He’s now six under, one off Paul Casey’s lead, with seven holes to go. With the short par-4 third and the par-5 eighth still left, you have to figure he has two more birdies in him. If he gets those and goes bogey-free, he could be your solo first-round leader.
7:57 a.m.: Couldn’t have asked for two better shots into the green at the 13th from Phil Mickelson. He set himself with a prime look at eagle, but it slid past the left edge. He settled for birdie to get to two under.
At No. 12, Justin Thomas two-putts for par to remain at five under. He’s joined at five under by Dylan Frittelli, who is about to get to six under if he converts on a short birdie putt at the par-5 second. Excellent opening round from the South African, so far.
7:48 a.m.: Not sure anyone had a tougher restart than Justin Thomas, who had 210 left into the 11th green. It was no issue for JT, though. He found the green and nearly made a bomb for birdie. At the 12th, he hits a beaut, setting up a 15 footer for birdie. He’s cooking.
All the way back at the par-5 second, two-time Masters champ Bernhard Langher makes birdie to get to four under. He always seems to pop in the first two rounds, but that doesn’t make it any less stunning every time. The man just turned 63 and he’s trying to chase down Paul Casey. Unbelievable.
7:41 a.m.: Great recovery from Phil at the par-3 12th. He gets up and down with ease to save par, then takes a swig out of his gigantic Yeti with his logo on it. Peak Phil. Back at 10, Dustin Johnson grinds out a par after his birdie putt slipped a few feet past. Greens are looking a little bit slicker this morning. Love to see it.
7:36 a.m.: We’re off and running aaaaand, it’s a bit of a chop fest. Turns out, even for the pros it’s hard to roll out of bed and get warm by 7:30 a.m. Some lowlights: Phil Mickelson pulled his first shot badly at No. 12 but stayed dry, Dustin Johnson hit a not-so-great approach into No. 10 green, and Rickie Fowler tripled the 12th, though most of that was due to rinsing one yesterday. These guys will settle in, but it’s going to take a few swings first.