Day 1 Done Round 1 Not Complete

By Associated PressApril 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Opening Day at the Masters brought some familiar sights Thursday-- first the rain, then the names atop the leaderboard that included defending champion Phil Mickelson and world No. 1 Vijay Singh.
 
But don't get the idea this was just another typical day at Augusta National.
 
Phil Mickelson
Defending champion Phil Mickelson had four birdies and two bogeys through 11 holes Thursday.
Tiger Woods hit an eagle putt that went off the green and into Rae's Creek. Ernie Els spent more time in the trees than in the fairway. Former champion Billy Casper returned to the Masters for the first time in three years and made history with the highest score on a hole (14) and the highest round (106).
 
Jack Nicklaus teed off to a heartfelt ovation in what might be his last Masters.
 
And when a wet and wacky start to the 69th Masters ended in darkness, Palmer was on the leaderboard -- not four-time winner Arnold Palmer, but Masters rookie Ryan Palmer.
 
Of the 24 players who managed to squeeze in the first round, Mark Hensby of Australia was the clubhouse leader at 3-under 69, showing that Augusta National doesn't have to be crusty and firm to be a brute.
 
Chris DiMarco, who showed Mickelson the line on his winning putt last year, birdied three straight holes and was atop the leaderboard at 4 under par with four holes still to play.
 
Luke Donald of England was another shot behind and four holes left in his first round, while the group at 2 under included Mickelson, Singh, Palmer, Retief Goosen and Stuart Appleby.
 
Players were to return at 9:45 a.m. to complete the first round, and barring any more weather delays, the tournament should be back to normal by the weekend.
 
This was the ninth time in 15 tournaments that weather interrupted play, and the fourth straight week of rain.
 
Trying to hold down his No. 1 ranking, Singh was a model of consistency in a first round that was out of whack before players even arrived at Augusta National -- tee times were pushed back five times as more than an inch of rain fell, leading to a 5 1/2 -hour delay and players starting from both tees.
 
Along with picking up three birdies on the front nine, Singh twice saved par with 10-foot putts. His only bogey came on the 11th hole, the last one he played before the round was suspended, leaving him at 2 under.
 
Mickelson was all smiles when he stepped to the first tee, looking not much differently from when he left the Masters last year wearing a green jacket. He opened with a bogey, but kept himself out of trouble most of the day and gave himself ample birdie chances.
 
Goosen, the forgotten figure in all the hype over the ``Big Four,'' made a rare birdie on the par-3 12th, then recovered from a tee shot into the azaleas on the par-5 13th to escape with par.
 
It wasn't the fast, fiery course most players wanted to see, conditions that have not been around for the Masters since the course was super-sized three years ago.
 
Based on the scoring, they might be thankful for the rain.
 
Even with the greens soft and holding approach shots, only 10 of the 92 players were under par, and already there were five scores at 80 or higher among those who finished.
 
Woods hasn't broken par in the first round of the Masters since he won in 2002, and that's where he was headed this year -- some of that because of bad shots and bad judgment, some from sheer bad luck.
 
He reached the par-5 13th in two with a risky shot out of the pines, leaving him a 70-foot eagle putt. But he misjudged the speed so badly that the ball raced by the hole, tumbled down the bank and went into Rae's Creek. Woods left the ball there, replayed the putt and fared much better, two-putting for a bogey.
 
He looked as though he might get that shot back when his approach into No. 1 descended on the flag, but Woods turned away in shock when it hit the bottom of pin and spun off to the side into a bunker, turning birdie into bogey.
 
He wasn't alone in his misery.
 
Paul Casey, who tied for sixth last year in his Masters debut, took a 10 on the 13th hole and shot 79. David Toms stood over a 20-foot putt on the 14th hole until a gust blew his ball down the slope and into the fairway. He made a double bogey, and shot 41 on his outward nine.
 
Still, nothing quite compared with Casper.
 
A 51-time winner on the PGA Tour who got overlooked in the Big Three era of the 1960s, the 73-year-old got plenty of attention in his return to Augusta National.
 
He hit five balls into the water on the par-3 16th and took 14, the highest score on any hole in the Masters. By the time he finished 12 holes, he already shot his age. His score of 106 would also go down in the record books, except that Casper declined to turn in his card.
 
``That's going in the scrapbook,'' Casper said.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
     
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

    Getty Images

    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

    Getty Images

    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.