It’s Masters Friday, so we better ramp up the coverage here. Time for a Friday takeaway lads and lassies (you all will be suitably stuffed by Monday!) It’s hard to beat an Augusta that shows its teeth. Persistent winds made a hard course a lot harder, and those close to the top had to use a fair chunk of their resolve, and more than a fair share of luck, to get anything out of an opening day like that. The better conditions appeared extremely late on.
The trade-off however, was that as the wind died down, the greens lost their relative receptiveness and became a hell of a lot quicker, making those knee jerker five foot par putt a hell of a lot harder. Performance of the day can only go to one man. SoCal native Charlie Hoffman battled the course and the elements to attain a truly monumental seven under.
It’s so hard to contextualise how great a round it was, as no one could get going and keep going.
Belgian bomber Thomas Pieters raced out to five below on the front nine, but was reigned in on the back, to the tune of five shots. Even Lee Westwood’s blitzing of the back nine, with multiple back to back bidies, isn’t as good as Hoffmann, who even managed to find Raes Creek, and survive unscathed. As for the Irish contingent, it was a strong showing.
Lowry finds himself in contention, even after a minute blip on both fifteen and sixteen.
For the last seven winners, the lack or lessening of three-putts have seen them across the line, and to have two in a row is a little disheartening, but he rallied well at the end to finish level par. Rory had a roller coaster round. Normally, the front nine on a Thursday has seen him start slow, which he did, and not build on it.
So for fans, it was a pleasure to see him grind out a fantastic finish to his round. His short game and putting, though fantastic, is not what you associate him with, but it kept him in the hunt. You imagine Charlie will regress to the field, so anyone around the level par mark still has a good shout.
The rain has receded, but the winds are expected to gust, around the thirty mile mark. It's ball striking, with more of an emphasis on damage limitation than overpowering the course. Which is Augusta in a nutshell. And that's not even taking about DJ's tumble! Enjoy Friday folks!