For a while Nick Dougherty was atop the leaderboard at 2 under. Then he was replaced by Luke Donald, who was in turn supplanted by Ian Poulter who eventually gave way to Justin Rose. Englishman all of them.
Poulter carded a 2-under 70 and his 8-iron off the tee that found the bottom of the cup on the par-3 16th was one of only a handful of eagles on a day that saw the field post relatively high scores more fit for a U.S. Open.
Rose, who led this same tournament after one round last year, signed for 68. Donald shot 73. Daugherty slipped to 74. Brit Lee Westwood made it round in 69. Englishman Paul Casey needed 71 blows.
But this was tonic for all the Brits'and Euros-- who are acutely aware that no one from their continent has won a Masters'an event that used to be their province'since Jose Maria Olazabal way back in 1999. Worse, if Irelands Padraig Harrington hadnt broken through at last years Open Championship at Carnoustie in Scotland, European golfers would still be looking for their first major championship in the 21st century.
The accompanying story line of the day was the halting start of World No. 1 Tiger Woods. The four-time Masters champion and prohibitive favorite at Augusta National parred his first 12 holes and stumbled to bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes. He bounced back with a chip-in eagle on 15 and came home in 72. That left him four shots behind Rose and South African Trevor Immelman, the first round co-leaders.
Didnt really get anything goin my way today, Woods said afterward.
Zach Johnson, known more for his gritty but surprising Masters win last year than for his length off the tee, caught most people by surprise with an opening 70. He was 3 under at one point and tied for the lead which temporarily sent the headlines writers scurrying.
Johnson Magic, was one suggested 72-point banger head. And that was topped by the wag who suggested that, if Johnson found himself at the top of the leaderboard by nightfall Sunday, the headline should read: Johnson and Johnson.
But it was the boys from Old Blighty that stole the shoe in the Georgia Pines on Day 1.
I think we all know hes got the potential to play great golf on the main stage, Poulter said of Rose, who was 2 over after four holes.
But do any of the Brits have the potential to be their first among their countrymen to score a green jacket since Nick Faldo did so for the third time 12 years ago.
You still have to really manage your game around here, said Donald, cognizant that there are 54 holes remaining. And you have to have a very good short game.
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