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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Masters Day 1: The Englishman did not disappoint

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AUGUSTA, Ga (UKTN) – Birdies were as precious as pearls on Day 1 of the Masters and even harder to string together. Two in a row almost looked like a necklace. So when Justin Rose came through the turn at Augusta National, few people doubted that something really special was in store.

The Englishman did not disappoint.

A lucky carambola on a mound at the edge of the greens at the 8th par 5 set up an eagle putt that wiped out Rose’s 2-point start and set off a run that saw him rack up seven more birdies over the course of the Last 11 holes. Five of those birdie putts were within 8 feet and he made a 12 foot par on the green which he missed.

“If you had told me on your way up the 8th hole, I would have said, ‘No chance, this course is playing a little too hard for that,’ Rose remembers. “But it’s amazing. It’s a good reminder that you never know what can happen there, just to stick to the golf course.

Rose’s 65 left him four shots ahead of his closest pursuers – Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama – on a day when only a dozen players broke the par, and miles ahead of defending champion Dustin Johnson (74 ) and a host of big names expected.

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A quick sample of some of the names that might have to come together just to make the cut: Brooks Koepka, 74; Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy (76); and Patrick Cantlay (79 years old). On safer ground were 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth (71), Jon Rahm (72) and Justin Thomas (73).

“It was a battle. That’s all I can say, ”said Rahm. “There wasn’t a time when you felt relaxed, or where I felt relaxed there. … All were quite tense.

At what point? Well, perhaps the lightest moment of the day came when McIlroy hit his dad, Gerry, with his No.7 approach shot.

“I knew it was my dad when I took aim at him,” McIlroy chuckled afterward. “I think he just needs to go put some ice cream on it – maybe I’ll autograph a bag of frozen peas for him.”

Speaking of autographs, Abraham Ancer signed for a 73 and said he was delighted to be quitting the course. “Well done,” he said. “I am neither angry nor disappointed.”

But that was before tournament officials hit him twice several hours later after a video review showed Ancer hit the sand with his club in a bunker at No.15.

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Incredibly, this wasn’t even the cruelest moment in this hole.

Shane Lowry’s eagle chip from behind the green rolled slowly towards the hole, but didn’t stop until it slid off the green and into the pond in front. Not to be outdone, Bernd Weisberger had an eagle putt on the left side of the green and watched, with a hand glued to his hip and growing panic on his face, as the ball waltzed past the flag and drowned in the same pond. .

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But the same number 15 turned a generous face to Spieth. His chip for the eagle from behind the green seemed destined for the same watery grave when the flag came across.

“It wasn’t just about going in the water,” Spieth said, “it could have happened in the middle of the water. Probably the luckiest break I’ve ever had here, if not anywhere, because it was at least a three-shot break.

It was that type of day.

The Masters was postponed last April due to the pandemic and finally held just five months ago under smooth and productive conditions. After Thursday’s fiasco, most of the pitch is said to have been pushing for a permanent comeback in November. Nothing to do.

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Instead, the green jackets took full advantage of the warm spring weather and let the greens dry like days old toast. The average score in the first round was 74.5, more than three strokes higher than in November, when 53 players finished day one in the red.

“I’m sorry about the guys’ first Masters in November, then they’re walking out there today wondering what’s going on,” said Kevin Kisner, who shot 72.

However, the round got off to a good start when Masters officials invited Lee Elder, the first black golfer to enter the tournament, to join six-time winner Jack Nicklaus and three-time champion Gary Player for the opening ceremony. from the start.

The former’s health would not allow him to swing alongside the duo, but the 86-year-old lifted his driver to hearty applause from spectators lined up on the tee box.

“My heart is very soft this morning, not heavy, soft, soft because of the wonderful things that I have encountered since coming here,” Elder said afterwards, sitting alongside Nicklaus and Player, “and being able to see some of the great friends who I’ve made in recent years, especially these two gentlemen here.

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