The inaugural Autumn Masters was always set to provide a new challenge to the golfers in an already difficult year.
With rain delaying the first tee times by three hours, 45 players were unable to finish their round before night fell. The combination of the cooler autumn conditions and the heavy rain flooding several greens led to more direct play from the majority of the field, increasingly the ability to kill the ball on the unforgiving greens at Augusta.
England’s Paul Casey improved 16 shots from his first round last year to take the lead at 7-under, taking the attention away from the pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau whose long drives, that had taken the the game by storm, proved to be erratic and rarely found the fairway, leaving the young American on 2-under heading into a packed second day.
Tiger Woods started his defence of the green jacket well, equalling his best ever first round score, shooting 68 and leaving him in a good position to lead the charge and cut Casey’s lead.
Several notable names are still to finish their first round, with Justin Thomas poised at 5-under after 10 holes, with Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and world number one Dustin Johnson sharing 3-under with holes still to play.
Overall, the first day of an unprecedented Masters proved that experience was still key to tackling Augusta. Veterans Woods and Casey outshone the renowned power of DeChambeau, using skill and many years of play at Augusta to gain the edge. Only time will tell if the scoreboard will look the same after all first rounds are complete, and after the year we’ve had, I wouldn’t be shocked if there were to be some shocks and upsets on day 2.
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