08 Apr 2022 | Professional golf |

Day 1 wrap at The Masters

by PGA of Australia

Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee in the first round of The Masters.

By Tony Webeck

Heaving galleries of Augusta National patrons welcomed five-time champion Tiger Woods back to The Masters yet it was Queenslander Cameron Smith who brought them to their feet.

Smith delivered an extraordinary birdie blitz to play holes 5-16 in eight-under par yet double bogeys to both start and end his round added up to an opening round of four-under 68.

It made the 28-year-old the clubhouse leader, a lead that he would retain until Korea’s Sungjae Im eagled 13 on his way to a five-under 67 and a one-stroke advantage at the end of day one.

Rain forced a delay to the start of play of 30 minutes and with Smith leading the charge it was a largely positive start for the six-strong Australian contingent.

Here is how they all fared in Round 1 of The Masters:

Cameron Smith – 68, 2nd

Delivered his sixth score in the 60s in his past nine rounds at Augusta National yet let slip a lead that was at one point three strokes. A double bogey at the opening hole put Smith on the back foot but he responded in the best possible fashion sparked by a chip-in at the par-4 fifth. Birdied six, eight, nine, 12, 14, 15 and 16 yet a second double bogey for the day at 18 brought the Queenslander back to the pack.

Key stat: 78 per cent GIR (field 58 per cent)

What he said: “I love this place. I know it presents plenty of birdies. I just really had to get in a groove. I hit a great drive down the second and went into the bunker, which again was quite frustrating, but after probably the fourth or fifth hole there, started getting on a bit of a trot and started seeing those good iron shots go pretty close.”

Min Woo Lee – 73, T31

Juiced up with adrenaline on debut, Lee dropped a shot at his opening hole yet brushed off any sense of nervousness with birdies at his subsequent two holes. A third birdie at the par-4 fifth elevated Lee’s name to the top of the leaderboard albeit briefly, a double bogey at the par-3 sixth dropping the 23-year-old to one-over. There were further birdies at eight and 16 in what was an impressive first competitive round at Augusta.

Key stat: Average drive 298 yards (field 285 yards)

What he said: “It’s brutal out there. The wind is getting up now, and you have just got to hit good shots. Some of the holes, like 13, straight left-to-right wind off the tee, and you are trying to hit a draw, and it’s just hard. Leak it out a little right, and it’s gone 40 yards right of target, so, again, you’ve just got to grit it out.”

Marc Leishman – 73, T31

A three-putt from long range at the first put Leishman over par early in his round and it took until he found the par-5 15th green in two to register his first birdie of Round 1. Another long distance three-putt at the par-3 sixth was the Victorian’s only other dropped shot as he finished the opening round just outside the top 30 on the leaderboard.

Key stat: 72 per cent GIR (field 58 per cent)

What he said: “It was definitely there for the taking. It was gettable. Greens after the rain last night were not quite what we were used to. I didn't quite adjust to it. I felt like I hit it well enough to shoot a really good score. Didn't shoot a bad score, but just felt like I had a lot of putts that I could have made that I didn't, so that was disappointing in that respect. But then to make the putt on 17 and 18, those two good par putts, it will make dinner taste a little better tonight.”

Adam Scott – 74, T43

Birdie at two and bogey at six saw the 2013 champion make the turn in even par but Scott endured a difficult start to his back nine. Bogeys at 10 and 11 were compounded by a wild tee shot left of the 13th fairway, Scott forced to take a penalty drop as he made six at the par 5. He stemmed the bleeding with birdies at 14 and 16 but made his fifth bogey of the day when he hit his tee shot right at 18 and was unable to get up-and-down from left of the green.

Key stat: 75 per cent sand saves (field 47 per cent)

Lucas Herbert – 74, T43

Settled the nerves with an up-and-down from the front of the first green and then hit a gorgeous pitch from 70 yards to eight feet and birdie at the second. He remained one-under until a bogey at 10 and then fell foul of the famous par-3 12th when his tee shot trickled back into Rae’s Creek. His second off the pine straw at 13 bounced over the hazard fronting the green and his subsequent chip shot to six feet setting up his second birdie of the day.

Key stat: 100 per cent sand saves (field 47 per cent)

What he said: “I hit a shot on 12 that I thought I hit it probably 150 yards, and it’s going 135 maybe. You’re sort of like, How does that come up so short? Then all of a sudden, you feel the gust come in your face. That will make sense why. It just never really feels like, when you’re hitting a shot, the wind that you’re feeling at your person is also what’s at the green. So it’s just tricky to commit, tricky to trust that those winds are going to be what you’re predicting. You can see why the hype about this place being so tricky to pick the wind is real.”

Cam Davis – 75, T60

The only Aussie without a birdie on day one, Davis struggled to adjust to the lack of speed in the Augusta National greens due to the overnight rains. The 27-year-old had 15 pars to go with bogeys at three, seven and 14 to keep himself in contention to make the cut in Friday’s second round.

Key stat: 67 per cent GIR(58 per cent field)

What he said: “I think I played the golf course as though it was still firm and fast. I found it difficult to adjust the green reads back to slightly slower speeds because they were very quick early in the week and they slowed down, obviously a little softer today. But I was leaving everything a little high, and I could have adjusted my reads a little bit better. It was just a little difficult to trust it was not going to break as much as it was earlier in the week. So just keep hitting the shots that I've been hitting and leave it in some better spots around the greens. It would be nice to make a birdie at some point.”

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