12 Apr 2024 | Professional golf | Tournaments | Golf Australia |

The Masters: DeChambeau on top as Davis leads Aussies

by Jimmy Emanuel

Cameron Davis at Augusta National.

After a two-and-a-half hour rain delay, Bryson DeChambeau leads the 88th Masters Tournament by one from Scottie Scheffler, with Cameron Davis the best of the Aussie contingent, while 27 players will complete their opening rounds on Friday.

“I'm very happy with the way I plotted my way around this place. I got the ball in the hole well, and yeah, walking off with a sub-70 round today feels like a big win,” Davis, who is 3-under and in share of sixth, said.

The rain that halted the start did not reappear, however, strong winds of 20-30 kmh whipped across Augusta National from the south-west, particularly as DeChambeau signed off on his 7-under 65.

Cameron Smith six back of the American after a 1-under 71, while Jason Day sits even after 13 holes with Adam Scott 1-overand a hole in front of his fellow Queenslander and Min Woo Lee opening with 74 (+2). Amateur Jasper Stubbs rounds out the Australians after an 80 (+8) on major debut.

Starting and finishing with three consecutive birdies, DeChambeau’s lone bogey of the day came at the 10th, while Scheffler looked ominous during a bogey-free 66.

Having made the turn in 3-under, the dogleg left 10th, like DeChambeau, was where Davis dropped his first shot of the day after a heavily struck greenside bunker shot from the 29-year-old.

Davis recording a second consecutive bogey at the 11th before he righted the ship with birdie at the par-5 13th, a feat he repeated at the 15th when a ripped long iron second shot barely hung on the front edge of the green.

Another birdie went begging at the par-3 16th for Davis when his three-metre putt slid by the right edge. The New South Welshman solidly holed two short par putts at 17 and 18 to sign for 69.

“I'm not even paying attention to the leaderboard right now,” Davis said.

“These are the sort of conditions where if you get nine holes where there's not much and you can go and score, that's great.

“I might not have that same opportunity, so I'm just really honestly going one shot, one hole at a time. It's cliche, but it's the only way to really play a golf course like this.”

Cam Smith Round One

Having entered the week slightly underprepared following food poisoning, Smith found himself in the top-10 early before the short par-3 12th, where the 30-year-old walked away with a double bogey five.

Clearing the water with his tee shot, Smith watched on as his ball trickled back into Rae’s Creek and with it the two shots he’d gained against par with birdies at the second and sixth.

The 2022 Open champion getting back into red figures at the par-5 15th, where he found the green in two and lagged his eagle putt to tap-in range. The Queenslander happy with the state of his game after three closing pars and 71.

“Honestly, it felt really good today,” Smith said.

“Not too much to complain about. I think like that shot on 12, obviously, is a poor one, but like I said, you're going to get those around here. Probably a couple of putts that could have gone in.”

Playing alongside Tiger Woods, who is 1-under through 13 holes, Day experienced an up and down day after a promising birdie at the third had him under par early.

Finding the trees long and right of the par-3 fourth, Day took double-bogey and compounded the mistake with another dropped shot at the sixth. The Queenslander fought back with birdie at eight, before adding another at the 10th when his long putt poured in the front edge.

Day, who is tied for 32nd, nearly getting back under par before darkness stopped play when his chip from left of the 12th green came up a roll short of the centre of the cup.

Whereas Day’s front nine twisted and turned, it was a lesson in patience early for Scott.

The 2013 Masters champion made seven straight pars to start, with his wedge play and putter doing much of the work. The flatstick provided an early highlight when the Queenslander rolled in a long, curling left to right putt at the second.

A first birdie came at the par-5 8th after a long iron from the pine straw found the green, before he dropped his first shot of the day at the 11th.

Failing to find the green from the back bunker at 12, Scott lost another shot and sits at 1-over with five holes to play.

Entering the week with a broken finger from a recent gym incident, Lee proudly spoke of his fight back with birdie at eight, after four bogeys in his first six holes.

“I am actually pretty proud of the way I went out there,” Lee told Fox Sports.

“When I made those four early bogeys, I wanted to walk off the course and it felt embarrassing. I guess it caught me off guard.”

Lee coming to life at Amen Corner with a tee shot over the flag that backed up to three feet on 12 followed by a “special” eagle at the par-5 13th. The 25-year-old giving two shots to par back at the 14th and 16th.

Understandably nervous making his first major start, Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner Jasper Stubbs made an impressive up and down par from 90 metres to open his Masters account.

“I was pretty nervous walking on to the tee of No.1. But yeah, it wasn't as bad as I was kind of expecting,” Stubbs said.

The Victorian banking a first birdie at the par-5 2nd and making the turn in one-over, before the 22-year-old was buffeted by the wind and Augusta’s back nine.

A slightly thinned second on the par-5 15th lead to what Stubbs called a “pretty easy seven”, which preceded a hat-trick of fives for 8-over and work to do to make the weekend.

“That's the plan, learn something from today and try and come out tomorrow, and I'll do my best to still make the cut, but yeah, we'll just try and have as low a round as we can tomorrow,” Stubbs said.

Play was officially suspended 7:51pm local time (9:51am AEST) with those still to finish their first round back on course at 7:50am (9:50pm AEST) and the second round getting underway at 8am (10pm AEST).

The Masters is live on Fox Sports, available on Foxtel and Kayo, as well as 9GemHD and 9Now.

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