Woods stakes case for fifth Masters title, while Koepka and DeChambeau charge into lead
Masters first round leaderboard
-6: B Koepka (US), B DeChambeau (US); -5 P Mickelson (US); -4: I Poulter (Eng), D Johnson; -3: J Harding (SA), A Scott (Aus), J Rahm (Spn), K Kisner (US), K Aphibarnrat (Thai).
Selected others:-2: T Woods (US), R Fowler (US), J Day (Aus), F Molinari (Ita); -1: T Fleetwood (Eng), B Langer (Ger); +1 S Garcia (Spn), P Reed (US), R McIlroy (NI), T Hatton (Eng); +2 E Pepperell(Eng) +3 J Rose (Eng), J Spieth (US), +9 P Casey. Full leaderboard
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau produced back-nine birdie blitzes to earn a share of the first-round lead. Koepka, who missed last year’s masters with injury has won three of the past seven majors – defending the US Open title in 2018, before winning the US PGA Championship.
After a solitary birdie on the front nine, he made five in six holes from the 10th before parring the final three.
“I’m super-aggressive at a normal event and that kind of backfires sometimes,” Koepka said.
“In a normal event that three-putt for par on eight really would have driven me nuts. I would have been sitting there for probably five minutes trying to figure out what I did wrong, but I just let things go a lot more easily in a major.”
DeChambeau also profited on the second nine with birdies on the short 12th and long 13th before becoming the first player in six years to pick up a shot on each of the final four holes.
“I hit my shots beautifully,” said the 25-year-old world number six. “We changed every shaft on the clubs leading into this, it’s pretty cool to understand the dynamics around this and there is something special to come.”
Tiger Woods came into the competition hyped up, speaking of ending his decade-long drought in the majors, and the four-time winner backed up those words with a solid round.
Woods was among the early starters and briefly led on three under before a bogey on the 17th dropped him to the chasing pack. There were no fireworks, however, a birdie on the par-five 13th sparked a road that echoed across the course.
Woods bogeyed the par-four 17th after hitting his tee shot into the trees, and when he drove into a fairway bunker on the 18th, he also looked to be heading for an untidy finish. But he smashed his ball from the sand on to the green and two-putted from 30 feet.
“It’s not a bad start,” said 43-year-old Woods. “I felt in position to make birdies but I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine.
“I have a late tee on Friday and the wind is supposed to be up so I have my work cut out but so does everyone else.”