In total demonstration on a course yet more ferocious than ever, the Englishman took control of the tournament with a sublime 65 (-7).
Mistreated or even “humiliated” last November, the legendary course of the Augusta National Golf Club took revenge on Thursday during the first round. It was expected, it was confirmed, the playing conditions turned out to be radically different from those of the Masters 2020 in November. The course, firmer than ever, upset the elite of world golf, who also had to contend with a sustained wind and often delicate flags. No wonder in this context that the scores did not take off and that only 10 players played under par. They were 43 to evolve under the par last fall at the end of the first round!
Justin rose in the zone
Justin Rose, on a cloud has escaped this little game of massacre. While he was +2 after 7 holes, the 41st player in the world then posted, on a cloud, 7 birdies and an eagle in 11 holes with a superb 65 (-7) which places him alone in the lead. This is the sixth time that the gold medalist of the Rio 2016 Olympics has taken the helm of a tournament where he finished in second place in 2015 and 2017. It is his best score in 59 laps at Augusta since his first steps in 2003. Hideki Matsuyama is four strokes behind in second place. The Japanese was particularly effective on the par 5s (birdie on 2, eagle on 8, birdie on 13) to return a card of 69 (-3). Just like the American left-hander Brian Harman, the other dolphin of Rose. The one who was at the 95th level in the world just a month ago owes his presence to Augusta with his brilliant third place at the Players and a quarter-final at the World Match-Play Championship. He confirmed his current very good form. Just like Jordan Spieth, recent winner of the Valero Texas Open. Despite a horrible tripe bogey on the 9, the former world number one, also author of an eagle on the 15, made one of the rare cards of the day under the par with a promising 71 (-1) and points in the top 8.
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McIlroy and DeChambeau already in the hard
If Xander Sc Chaudele or the young dad Jon Rahm have limited the damage by finishing in the par, just like the world number two Justin Thomas and the new star Collin Morikawa (+1), stars have suffered this Thursday and some will even have to whip to pass the cut. If he returned an anthology chip on the 11 for the birdie, the title holder Dustin Johnson had an average start with a card marred by a double bogey on the 18 and a disappointing 74 (+2). The 2017 winner Sergio Garcia is content with a 75 (+3). Very fit in recent weeks, the Englishman Lee Westwood, off topic this Thursday, makes a mediocre 77 (+5). And what about the Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, still very delicate with his swing (+4), despite his recent association with Pete Cowen. Day to forget for Matt Kuchar (+6) and Patrick Cantlay (+7). Bryson DeChambeau, still does not have the course in the eye. Confirmation with his disappointing 76 (+4) which places him in 60th place and a very aggressive strategy which always leaves one perplexed… The aggressiveness paid off for the Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (+2 total) who managed a hole in one on 16, a par 3 of 170 yards (155 meters). The 24th in the world struck straight for the flag and his ball, after a few rebounds, and struck the flagpole before falling into the hole. Enough to make the privileged few invited this year roar with pleasure.
Victor Perez far from the account
With a heavy 78 (+6), which relegates him to 75th place, Victor Perez will not however keep an unforgettable memory of this first day and will have to fight to cross the cut. The number one tricolor passed the first leg with a 40 (+4) without birdie. He had to wait until the 15th to finally unlock the counter. In difficulty in chipping, a little less comfortable than usual in his faceoffs (10 fairways out of 14 touchdowns), he stuck in putting (1.83 putts on average). Ruthless Augusta.