Friday, April 9, 2021
Thursday's opening round of the Masters bore little resemblance to the 2020 edition, played for the first time in November, when Dustin Johnson ran away and hid at a record-breaking 20 under par. Augusta National had the last laugh for this 18 holes, except for Justin Rose, who shot 7-under-par 65 and took a four-stroke lead into today's play.
A combination of evil pin placements, and the "fast and firm" condition of the greens, left the majority of the field of 87 shaking their heads. Aside from Rose's superb round, only Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama were able to break 70, both posting 3-under 69's, and only nine others were able to break par. There were four players at 2-under-70 and five at 1-under 71.
A great deal of the head-shaking came as a result of excellent irons to the greens which landed 15 feet or less from the hole, then proceeded to slither off in different directions, often leaving putts of 30 to 40 feet. Many even ended up off the putting surface.
Johnson, the record-breaker, was one better than the early projected cut line of +3 with a 2-over-74, same score posted by Seminole Brooks Koepka. The other Seminole, Daniel Berger, is one higher at 75. The two Gators are both over the cut line, Billy Horschel at 76 and Brian Gay at 78.
Rose began by taking bogeys at the first and seventh holes and was 2 over heading for the par-5 eighth tee. There he went on an unreal tear, making eagle 3 on that hole, and adding seven birdies the rest of the way. He played the last 11 holes in 9 under.
NOTES: Tommy Fleetwood made news when he aced the famed 16th hole, his second ace in the past few weeks . . . Only one of the nine-man senior group finished better than the cut line, Bernhard Langer shooting 2-over 74.
If Rose can keep up his pace, he'll annihilate the field. History says it won't happen.
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