Masters First Round Thoughts 2013

More than anything else, I’m pleased to see that the first round was so competitive. Marc Leishman and Sergio Garcia! are tied for first. Dustin Johnson is one shot back. Six are just two shots back: David Lynn, Rickie Fowler, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Trevor Immelman, Fred Couples and Matt Kuchar.

There are 19 players within four shots of the lead, including Tiger and Phil.

That said, I fully expect Tiger to make a charge Friday and get into first place. He’ll pull two or three shots ahead on Saturday, and then there won’t be any need to watch on Sunday. I’ll play golf instead of watching it.

All joking aside, for me, sporting events of any sort are at their best when the outcome is in doubt until the last. That’s why the NFL is as successful as it is: “On Any Given Sunday …” and all that. Whether Tiger wins or not is to me not nearly as important as the degree of suspense throughout the event.

The bunch at the top of the leaderboard after day one is interesting. Marc Leishman is a relative unknown, but would quite a story as the first Australian to win the Masters. Sergio Garcia famously said a couple of years back that he can’t win a Major, and yet here he is in fine shape to do just that.

No one would be surprised to see either tumble from their mountaintops, though. Garcia was low amateur at The Masters in 1999, and early in his career was appointed the title of “Tiger’s Chief Rival.” He has instead remained a frustrating puzzle. He has all the talent in the world, but somehow can’t keep it together.

Interesting fact: At 54 starts, Sergio Garcia has the longest current streak of consecutive Major appearances. He’s due.

Dustin Johnson yesterday showed that he has the overwhelm-the-course firepower that Tiger brought in 1997. Dustin was hitting driver-short irons on the par fives. I would not be at all surprised to see him don a Green Jacket on Sunday.

Rickie Fowler was on a roller coaster. He carded six birdies, one eagle and two double bogeys to end up at 4 under. In the same tier, Trevor Immelman had a bogey free round, a feat he managed when he last won the Masters.

And then there’s 52 year old Fred Couples. As much as the pros profess to love Augusta National, I think that Couples is the one player that the course loves back. There is really no other explanation for his competitive longevity at Augusta. To put it into perspective, Fred Couples, the 1992 winner, put the Green Jacket on Bernhard Langer the following year. Langer hasn’t made the cut since 2006.

Fred has an interesting observation in one of the interviews I read: the key to Augusta, he said, is to make your mistakes in the right places.

The biggest story of the tournament, however, could be Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China. Tianling, apparently not intimidated by Augusta National, shot a 73 in the first round. He could actually make the cut.

Here’s hoping for a competitive second day, and a competitive weekend.

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1 thought on “Masters First Round Thoughts 2013”

  1. It was good to see a lot of outsiders up near the lead.

    Tiger was very unlucky today and probably should have been tied for the lead or at least only one off it. Saying that though i’m really please to see my fellow Australians playing so well and up near the top.


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