AUGUSTA, Ga. – The golf course has no feelings.
Or is it so?
That would be the easiest way to explain the revenge of the National Golf Club Augusta made on the field in the first round of the Masters tournament on Thursday, after many of the same players cleared the field last year.
Five months ago in November, the month when Augusta National usually just wakes up from a good night’s sleep, the world’s best golfers arrived to play Masters 2020, which was delayed by a coronavirus pandemic. The trail was somnolent and unprepared, especially since the night before the event began it became good and the rain splashed by the rain.
The golf elite did not take pity on the honorable, though vulnerable aristocrat of the main champion golf courses. Dustin Johnson’s winning score of 20 below the level was a tournament record, and 43 players finished the event under the score.
Augusta National seems to have a good memory. In the first round of the 2021 Masters, the course has passed, ready and itching for revenge.
When the last shot was hit on Thursday, Justin Rose was outstanding with a brilliant seven under 65, which included six birds on the last nine. That result put him in the lead, four moves ahead of Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama who were tied for second place after scoring 69 results.
But only 11 more players were below the level, and Rose, Harman and Matsuyama were the only golfers to knock down 70. They faced the first round in 2020, when the tournament record of 24 players was reached in the 60s and an incredible 53 less .
Perhaps the field should have been warned on Tuesday when Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, who played at his 36th Masters, said Augusta National were the toughest conditions he had seen in decades. Asked about the greens that had been drying all week, the couples said, “If they get firmer, be careful.”
The prophecy, aided by whirling winds, came to life on Thursday around the field. Jordan Spieth, a former Masters winner, was on the rise in the middle of his round until the wrong three-pointer shot into the ninth par-4 hole, followed by a recovery kick that bounced off the tree, eventually leading to a three-pointer. and a glitzy triple ghost. Spieth rallied with an eagle on the 15th hole and consecutive birds on the 16th and 17th holes, to finish with one below 71, leaving him tied for eighth place.
Rule United States Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau shot a four over par 40 on the front nine and then had the final nine up and down. His four pairs above 76 left him in a draw for 60th place.
After his round, DeChambeau had a lament shared by golfers who had not yet mastered the subtleties of August National, and most of all had to hit shots from lies downhill to uphill. Asked how often he sees such a recording on the P.GA tour, DeChambeau replied: “Not very often, only in Augusta. So I have no problem anywhere else. “
Rory McIlroy, who needs a Masters title to complete a career Grand Slam at all four major golf championships, shot a sophisticated 76, McIlroy not only had six thieves, but also stuck his father Gerry in the back of his legs with a willful second shot in seventh hole.
The older McIlroy seemed fine, walking away after his son’s golf ball exuded him. After that, McIlroy said he targeted his father because he was standing in a good place. Gerry McIlroy later joked that he wanted Rory’s autograph, which is a common thing a player gives to a fan who is hit by a shot.
“I think you just need to go and put on some ice,” Rory said thinking of his father with a smile. “Maybe I’ll give him an autograph of a bag of frozen peas.”
Rose opened his round with less than 35 on the front nine, but then coated the closing holes with birds on the 10th and 12th holes, two of August National’s biggest challenges. Rose chirped both pairs of 5 on the back nines, as well as a pair-3 16th and a terrifying pair-4 17th hole.
His performance was particularly impressive as he did not play a competitive round of golf for a month, as he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March with a back injury. In the end, dismissal could be useful in a variety of ways. First, it slashed Rose’s expectations of the Masters, something he admitted Thursday night.
“You can just get a little out of instinct,” said Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion. “Obviously I’ve competed a lot of times in these big tournaments and I have one of them in my name, but we’re looking for more.”
He also used his free time to spend more time working with his old swing coach Sean Foley, with whom Rose met late last year. The two first started working together in 2009 and had a brief, recent separation, which is common in the golf world.
“Everything I’ve achieved in a game of golf, I’ve done it with Sean next to me,” Rose said, adding: “I’ve been following my game a bit until 2019, and I think it’s a lock, just to be left to myself for too long, it probably wasn’t a good thing.
“So it’s great to be back with Sean and I implicitly trust him. He knows what suits me and my game. ”
Four players fell behind fifth behind Rose, two below the score: Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, both former big champions, and Will Zalatoris and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
“How hard it was today, how hard and fast this place played and how the wind picked up,” Reed said. “I will definitely take a deuce below the level. ”
Simpson echoed Reed’s feelings.
“The guys will be kicked out of the golf tournament on Day 1 in these conditions,” he said. “I knew it was going to be hard today, but I didn’t know we were going to deal with the stormy winds like we were. So I am very pleased with my result.
“I think it’s been at least five years since the last time I remember her being this big, so rude. But it’s also fun. This golf course is more fun this way because you really have to think, you really have to use the trails. Otherwise, you can put yourself in really bad places. “