Masters First Round Thoughts

ircumstance conspired to prevent an earlier posting on this, and you no doubt have read too many summaries on other sites. Still, I wanted to add my own noise to the cacophony:

Congratulations to Rory McIlroy for his Masterful round, shooting a 7 under 65 for a share of the lead. He shot in the first round of the Open Championship last year at St. Andrews. He shot 80 the next day, then recovered to shoot 69 and 68. Maybe he’ll be over the second round jitters.

Alvaro Quiros? He supposed to be one of the longest hitters in the game, but he’s never threatened to win a Major, and has never shot better than 75 at Augusta. Still, there has to be a first time for every one.

Tiger: “I’m right there in the ball game. I’m only six back, and as I’ve said, we’ve got a lot of golf ahead of us.” … It’s said that you never win a Major on a Thursday, but you can lose one. Tiger didn’t lose Thursday, so he’s still in it. But I think he’s delusional about his game. I caught this quote on television: “I hit a lot of beautiful putts.” Really? I caught more a couple that, five years ago, would have fallen in. When the mojo abandons you …

Speaking of losing it on Thursday, that’s exactly what World Number 1 Martin Kaymer did. His six-over 78 places him ahead of only Tom Watson, Arjun Atwal, Craig Stadler and Henrik Stenson. Kaymer needed to do a lot better, because any of the top six players could come out of this weekend in the number one spot: Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Woods.  Interestingly, Paul Casey is in the top 7, but the math works against him based on the number of tournaments played. In Casey’s case, less would have been more.

YE Yang was a wild card for me in my picks, and I’m glad I got him. Now, if he can just show that cool he displayed in going head to head with Tiger at the PGA. I like his chances.

The University of Michigan’s Lion Kim shot a 76 in the first round. That was two shots better than soon-to-be-former World Number 1 Martin Kaymer.

I like Matt Kuchar’s chances to win. He’s posted 17 top ten finishes in the last 34 starts. That kind of consistency, round to round, can get you a Major victory.

The “new wave” of golfers are showing their chops. Going through all the ties for 14, you have Rory McIlroy, Alvaro Quiros, Ricky Barnes, Matt Kuchar (older, but not part of the previous wave), Gary Woodland, Brandt Snedeker, Charl Schwartzel, Ryan Moore, Sean O’Hair, Camilo Villegas and Rickie Fowler. So too for the internationals: nine of the top 13 (through ties for 7) are non-US players.

He only finished at -2 (only!?), but Phil showed a lot of shotmaking brilliance. Time and again, he chipped, pitched and flopped his way to a par after putting himself in awkward positions after his tee shots. If he can get his driver under control while maintaining his short game, there’s another green jacket for his closet.

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2 thoughts on “Masters First Round Thoughts”

  1. I too don’t know what beautiful putts he was talking about.  Maybe he made all his 4-8 footers yesterday?  He still need to get off that Nike and switch to the Golfsmith Enterprise.  My prediction for Tiger is the same as it was last weekend.  He will be between 5-8 back by the end of today.  Tomorrow he will go lights out, maybe have the low round of the field and be no more than 5 back on Sunday, but the performance tomorrow, regardless of Rory, Phil or anyone else- will make Sunday all about Tiger.  CBS might even put a camera on Steve’s hat so we can get way more coverage than is necessary.  Billy Payne will hold an emergency board meeting to consider putting Tiger in the final group even though he is T9.  But Tiger will do something like a 78 on Sunday and then say it is really close, it is coming together, blah-de-blah-blah.

    It is probably more hope than prediction, but Alvero will probably fall back a little bit.  If he doesn’t, then Rory will.  My preference is to see Rory in the final group on Sunday.

    Phil will lurk about where he is by the end of today, maybe come up a couple on the leader.  Watching how he is playing – I think Phil has a decent chance to be in the final group on Sunday.  I hope it is Rory and Phil.  If it is Alvero and Phil in the last group on Sunday, I don’t know how Phil will react to having to be out on every drive, and it not be close.  Right now, I think Phil whether it is in the last group or not will most likely be with one of these two.  CBS of course is sacrificing goats 24/7 right now to see if they can get it to be Phil and Tiger.

    My favorite quotes of the week (and there have been some good ones by a lot of folks) – both by Phil. – When asked if his better physique has improved his vertical leap he answered “First, the cameras did not catch me at the apex….it is hard to imagine that it could be worse”.  Seriously, that picture from 2004 does not improve the image of golfers as out of shape. 

    But the best quote was – when asked “for the first time since 97, you have passed Tiger in the World Golf Ranking, does that mean anything to you” – Phil- “It would mean something if he was #1 when I passed him”.  I don’t know how much rubbing it in Phil was trying to do with that, but it wasn’t really mean, but funny.  As much as Phil must relish a little that he is ranked higher than Tiger, at the same time the reality is that Phil himself is ranked lower than he was 52 weeks ago.

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  2. Just looked at leaderboard, Yang started with a bogey and then 3 birdies.  at -7 and T1.  Choi is -5 after 1.  That would make a final group!  I like both of them.  I always like watching KJ, and I like Yang because he was the guy that broke Tiger.

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