AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Twelve months after succumbing to the pressure of trying to retain his Masters title, Bubba Watson delivered a near-flawless display to soar up the leaderboard in Thursday’s opening round at Augusta National.
The power-hitting American left-hander, who is renowned for his audacious brand of ‘Bubba’ golf, was the only player in the field of 97 to go bogey-free as he fired a three-under-par 69 on a firm, fast-running layout.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Three years after suffering a final-round meltdown at the Masters, Rory McIlroy got back into contention for the year’s opening major with an impressive display of patience and grinding golf on Thursday.
On a sun-baked Augusta National layout where danger lurked at every corner because of swirling winds and quickening greens, the Northern Irishman eked out a one-under-par 71 to sit three strokes off the first-round lead.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Just like the Rioja wine he loves to drink after a round of golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez seems to get better with age and, apart from two shots, the Spaniard was in sparkling form at the Masters on Thursday.
The 50-year-old from Malaga, who bettered his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner at the Hong Kong Open in December, birdied four of the first nine holes on the way to a one-under-par 71 at Augusta National in the opening round.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – The Masters has been won by only three debutants since the tournament was launched in 1934 but Jonas Blixt, Kevin Stadler and Jimmy Walker made impressive starts on Thursday to raise expectations of a fourth.
First-timers Stadler, Blixt and Walker all recorded two-under-par 70s in the opening round to climb into early contention for the year’s first major, taking advantage of relatively calm morning conditions in dazzling sunshine.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – In front of a huge crowd, the ‘Big Three’ of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player launched the 78th Masters on Thursday while Adam Scott prepared to begin his title defense later in the day.
On a glorious morning of bright sunshine at Augusta National, four-times champion Palmer, three-times winner Player and Nicklaus, who won a record six green jackets, hit the ceremonial first shots at the par-four opening hole.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – As the first of the year’s four majors, the Masters has always been keenly anticipated and this week’s edition should be one of the most open in decades with the absence of world number one Tiger Woods.
Former world number one Rory McIlroy has predicted that 70 players in the field of 97 are capable of clinching the coveted green jacket with multiple champion Woods out after having surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Nick Faldo is one of only three players who have claimed back-to-back Masters victories and he rates Adam Scott’s prospects of joining that illustrious group as “good” in this week’s edition.
Scott has enhanced his status as one of the game’s leading players with a superb run of form over the past year, but needs to avoid “getting wound up about defending” if he is to retain his Masters crown, according to Faldo.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Playing in the Masters has always been an electrifying experience for Phil Mickelson and this week is no different for the American, even though he is “nervous” about his title bid after recent health concerns.
The left-hander, a three-times winner at Augusta National, says he has fully recovered after withdrawing from last month’s Texas Open with a pulled abdominal muscle but rues the fact that he has not been in tournament contention in recent months.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Defending champion Adam Scott will launch his title defence at this week’s Masters in the company of PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and U.S. amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Australian Scott, who won his maiden major crown last year in a playoff with Argentina’s Angel Cabrera at Augusta National, was grouped with American Dufner and Englishman Fitzpatrick for the first two rounds in the draw announced on Tuesday.
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) – Had this week’s Masters been staged last November, Henrik Stenson would have been an overwhelming favorite to win his first major title after producing a barn-storming finish to his 2013 campaign.
Five months on, though, the Swedish world number three has very carefully played down his chances of clinching a maiden victory at Augusta National, mainly due to his mediocre record at the venue and a less than impressive start to this year.