07 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |

The Masters: Day leads Aussie charge

by Australian Golf Media

Jason Day Masters image
Jason Day chips during his opening 67 at The Masters today. Photo: Getty

By Tony Webeck

Two late birdies and a clutch par save on 18 have put Jason Day within two strokes of the lead after Round 1 of The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Three of the five Aussies in the field are under par and inside the top 20 through day one, Day’s five-under 67 putting him within two of co-leaders Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland, all of whom opened with seven-under 65s. Day went one better than fellow Queenslander Adam Scott who bogeyed the final hole for a four-under 68 while Open champion Cameron Smith birdied 18 for a round of two-under 70 and tie for 16th. Runner-up in 2011 and the outright leader with three holes to play when Scott won in 2013, Day had only once previously broken 70 in his opening round at The Masters. That was in 2015 and in a week in which the weather is expected to make scoring difficult in the days to come, Day is well-placed to once again contend for the green jacket. Twelve months on from missing The Masters for the first time in his career, Day’s resurgence shows no signs of slowing down but he knows he shares a lofty position on the leaderboard with many of the game’s best players. “You look at the leaderboard, it’s very, very stacked right now,” said Day. “I mean, any one of those guys can win easily and there’s big names on that leaderboard right now. “I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep pushing forward. “It’s nice to be able to get off to a good start, but you can’t get too far ahead of yourself. It might end up turning into a marathon if we have a pretty wet kind of windy conditions on the weekend.” Just one back of Day in a tie for sixth is Scott, who admitted to leaning on past champion vibes in his round of 68. On the 10-year anniversary of his Masters victory, Scott took advantage of a good break at the first hole and then birdied two and three, his only dropped shot of the day coming at the final hole. “There’s some good vibes being a Masters champion and coming back here and it’s appreciated and it’s certainly felt by those champions,” said Scott. “I think all the former champions feel it here. I think you even get good breaks from it. “My ball bounced out of a bunker and onto the first green today. “Any week you want to get off to a good start. But we just don’t know what’s going to happen and how the weather might affect the rest of the week. “If you’re hanging around right from the start on a week like this it’s probably helpful.” A frustrating day with the putter was all that prevented Smith from making a greater impression on Round 1 as he seeks to add to his wonderful history at The Masters. Two-under at the turn, Smith made bogey on 10 when his approach shot travelled long into the patrons at the back of the green, dropping a second shot on 12 when he pulled his tee shot long and left. The Open champion leant on his short game to make birdie from beside the green at the par-5 13th and then holed a 21-foot birdie putt on 18 for a round of 70. Paired together for the opening two rounds, Min Woo Lee and amateur Harrison Crowe both posted three-over 75s on day one. After making birdie on two, Lee launched a blistering tee shot to the fringe of the green at the 350-yard par-4 third. It would go to waste, however, as the West Australian four-putted for bogey, his third putt spitting back out at him from just three feet. Understandably, it was a nervy start for Crowe but he soon settled into his round that consisted of five bogeys, two birdies and 11 pars. His opening tee shot went left onto the ninth fairway yet he still managed to find the green with his second. He did three-putt to start his first Masters with a bogey but walked away buzzing from his first competitive round at Augusta National. “It was a lot of fun. It was awesome. And it was cool to share with it Min Woo.” Round 1 scores (leaders at -7)

-5 Jason Day (67) -4 Adam Scott (68) -2 Cameron Smith (70) -1 Ryan Fox (NZ) (71) +3 Min Woo Lee (75) +3 Harrison Crowe (a) (75) Round 2 tee times AEST

11.24pm Ryan Fox (NZ), Billy Horschel, Harris English 11.36pm Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Gordon Sargent (a) 2.12am Min Woo Lee, Harrison Crowe (a), Larry Mize 3.36am Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Kurt Kitayama 4am Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im

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