Published: Mon, April 15, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

In Masters final round, Woods faces the stars he helped create

In Masters final round, Woods faces the stars he helped create

But the 43-year-old American superstar might have fared even better had he taken advantage of short putts on the front nine that foiled what could have been only his second sub-70 opening round at Augusta after a 68 in 2010.

Hours after 14-time major champion Tiger Woods electrified the crowd by briefly putting his name atop the leaderboard, Koepka lit up the fabled course with five birdies in the space of six holes to break free atop a crowded leaderboard that at one point saw nine players sharing the lead. He started slowly again Thursday, although he birdied the second hole before missing a 5-footer for par at the fifth and a 4-footer for birdie at the sixth.

As the early groups wrapped up their first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club, much of the talk was about there not being any real low scores on the scoreboard. From the woods right of the 17th fairway, he went just over the back of the green and chipped in from 35 feet.

"I remember when I was in the final group a year ago at Shinnecock, just how much time, it was like the longest day of my life and I still hadn't teed off".

But he contended at each of the past two major championships previous year, including a second place at the PGA Championship to Koepka.

He is not the only player to putt with the flagstick in the cup - allowed under the new Rules of Golf - just the only one to apply science to the decision.

McIlroy got his round off to a stumbling start with a bogey at the first but quickly got that stroke back with a birdie at the third. He made two more bogeys before reaching the seventh hole, and then pulled himself together to salvage a 71.

In the past year, he has won twice on the Sunshine Tour (one was a 54-hole event), twice on the Asian Tour and once on the European Tour (Qatar Masters).

"It's been an up and down 36 holes for sure", McIlroy said. He had another chance for a birdie at the eighth from 9 feet but was unable to convert, finally getting one to drop at the ninth to shoot a front-side 35.

Tiger was actually tied for the lead at the time at 3-under thru 16 before a bad tee shot on 17 led to a bogey.

Scott was treading water at even par through 14 holes but surged up the leaderboard courtesy of birdies at the par-five 15th and hard par-four 17th.

"There's birdie opportunities. I can accept mistakes if I'm trying and it's not a mental error or I haven't got into places, so I can accept some mistakes". "I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing".

"I'm sort of surprised, " said pre-tournament favorite Rory McIlroy, who made five birdies but bogeyed his last two holes to shoot 73. 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

"I had the lead at the British Open in the final round, had a shot at the PGA and here I am at the Masters".

Past Masters champions Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel head up a six-strong South African contingent competing for the coveted green jacket at the 2019 Masters, but it was debutant Justin Harding who stole the show on day one at Augusta.

Like this: