After a windy, overcast day on Wednesday, the skies parted and the sun came through at Augusta National on Thursday. It was a power-packed day of news, as Jordan Spieth came on late to take the lead.
Here's a link to the entire leaderboard.
And here are five things we learned on the first day at The Masters:
1. Tiger's back ... sort of (and he's having fun)
The galleries following Tiger Woods were unworldly for his opening round.
And after sticking a birdie on the third hole, the buzz intensified. He slipped a bit, however, by stringing bogeys together on the next two holes. He later added a bogey on No. 11 and then plunked it in the water on the following hole. He finished the day at 1-over-par.
He said after the round that "73 is fine" and added that "it felt great to be back out there again." Here's a link to a story from Scott Michaux of the Augusta Chronicle detailing Tiger's day.
Tiger showed he's as focused as ever, but it's clear that he's enjoying the limelight more than in years past. Veteran Chronicle scribe David Westin writes in this piece:
"During his comeback, the 42-year-old has been more engaged on and off the course with fans. He’s also opened up with the media."
The longer Woods stays in contention, the more eyeballs will stay watching coverage of the event.
Here's a slideshow of the opening round, including some of Tiger's shots.
2. So much for Sergio's new balanced approach
It was just about a month ago that Sergio Garcia joined GateHouse Media's John Evans, Michaux and me in Austin to talk about how his win in last year's Masters was a life-changing experience. Sergio insisted that family life (he and his wife, Angela, recently welcomed a new daughter into the world) had grounded him.
Here's the video.
On Thursday, Sergio put that newfound mentality to the test against the 15th hole. The result wasn't pretty.
After hitting the ball into the drink five times, Garcia took a 13. It tied for the highest score ever recorded on a single hole in the tournament.
Here's Garry Smits' story on how the drama unfolded.
3. Who needs an ankle to play good golf? Not Tony Finau
The day after he recorded an ace and then suffered a horrific ankle roll — a moment that most assumed would force him out of the tournament — Tony Finau got stronger as the day progressed on Thursday.
He started with a bogey, but then added birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 8, 9, 13, and 15 to finish with a 68.
"I was really happy to be here and play. I played a really solid round of golf," Finau said.
"It's been pretty crazy, to be in this position. It's nothing short of a miracle, if you ask me. I could barely put any pressure on (the ankle)."
There's more on Finau in this piece from David Lee of the Augusta Chronicle.
4. True hero living out a dream
Sure, it might seem stressful, standing over a big putt. But Matt Parziale knows what real pressure is.
Parziale won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last October, but his full-time job is putting out fires in his hometown of Brockton, Mass.
We're not talking metaphoric, tough-day-on-the-links fires here. Real working fires.
Parziale played with Tiger Woods on Wednesday, as this story explains, and he had a moment during Thursday's opening round, when he fought back to even with birdies on the fourth and fifth holes.
His day didn't finish as he would have hoped — he played a nine-hole stretch at 8-over-par — but he still did his hometown proud.
5. Spieth looks like the old Spieth
While Tiger, Sergio and Tony Finau hogged the headlines, Jordan Spieth simply went to work.
Spieth had consecutive birdies on the second and third holes to spring into action. He dropped a pair of strokes, but had a round-reversing eagle on No. 8, then rolled on the back nine, finishing the day atop the leaderboard.
He climbed to 7-under, but pulled a drive on No. 18. Still, an amazing chip shot saved bogey, and Spieth finished the day with a two-stroke advantage.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had to do some interesting things on 18 here in my career,” Spieth said.
“It was a beautiful chip shot. I probably couldn’t have gotten it closer with a bucket of balls.”
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman wrote this piece on Spieth, and the Texas native insists he's got his confidence back to where it needs to be.
It sure looked like it on Thursday.
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