An 8. A bunch of 7s. It was a full house horror show in the first round of the 2012 Masters. Was this Texas hold ’em or a golf tournament?
With the world’s best golfers all gathered in Augusta hoping to be fitted for a new green sport coat, there were about as many stunning blow-up holes – so unbecoming for PGA Tour professionals – as there were sparkling eagles.
The stunner of them all was turned in by Henrik Stenson, the tournament leader for most of the day, at one point at 6-under. Stenson, whose best finish had been a tie for 17th, went from first to a tie for 14th in one hole, taking a snowman on 18. He dropped four strokes and finishing at one-under 71.
It was the seventh 8 in tournament history. The last was by Camilo Villegas in 2007. Prior to that Arnold Palmer recorded an 8 on No. 18 in 2000.
That was no way to end the day while Robert Garrigus had a nightmare start in his first Masters. He took a 7 on the first hole, tying Bill Ogden for the highest first-hole score in tournament history. Ogden had his 7 in 1954.
“Well, I guess that’s kind of cool, actually,” said Garrigus, who had two other double bogeys in his round to finish at 5-over 77. “No, that’s fine. But now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I want to go out and play well tomorrow and see about playing two more days after that.”
Simon Dyson had a 7 on No. 11 and Johnson Wagner had a 7 on No. 15. K.J. Choi closed the final five holes at 4-over par for a 77.
Former champion Trevor Immelman shot a 78. Former champion Sandy Lyle had a pair of 7s to finish at 86. But at least he has the excuse, being 54-year-old and out of shape. His participation is largely ceremonial, as all former champions have lifetime exemptions.
But another former champion, Tiger Woods, had to take two penalty shots, finishing at even-par.
“I hit some of the worst golf shots I ever hit today,” Woods said.
Tournament favorite Rory McIIroy opened with a flop, a double bogey on the opening hole. He scrambled to finish at 1-under by making back-to-back birdies on the final two holes.
“I didn’t feel I had my best out there today, especially after starting with a six,” McIIroy said. Just 28 of the 95 players were under par on a course that was ideal for scoring, soft after overnight rain with a light wind.
The most bizarre day belonged to Phil ‘Fore’ Mickelson. He took a 7 on the par-4 10th. He had to hit a provisional drive because his first drive ended up in the clover deep in the left-side woods. Dozens of spectators searched through the vegetation with him for five minutes – a photographer’s dream shot – but to no avail.
Mickelson called his episode at the 10th ‘Tarzanian…tramping through the jungle.” He said he doesn’t remember ever losing a ball at Augusta, other than in the water.
“I missed balls in the wrong spots,” he said.
He had another bogey at 14 the finished birdie, par, par, birdie for a two-over 74 in a round that looked like he was heading toward 80.
The largest comeback at the Masters after the first round is seven strokes (Nick Faldo-1990, Tiger Woods-2005). Mickelson is seven shots off the lead.
Lee Westwood, steady down the stretch, emerged as the first-round leader at 5-under. He has a one shot lead over Peter Hanson and Louis Oosthuizen, both at 4-under.
The first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win the Masters 15 times. Dating to 1985, Trevor Immelman (2008) is the only player to carry the first-round lead/co-lead on to victory.
Westwood has two top 10s in 13 starts here. Five of his last nine rounds have been in the 60s. His 67 matches his tournament-best round.
This is his 56th start in a major. He has yet to win one. He has had two seconds and four thirds in his majors experience.
This was Oosthuizen’s first round in the 60s at the Masters in seven career rounds. It is his first round at par-or-better at Augusta National.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, with a 3-under 69, has three top 10s in 13 previous starts at the Masters. Today was Jimenez’s sixth round in the 60s in 47 career rounds at the Masters.
Lefthanders have won four of the last nine Masters, Mike Weir and three by Phil Mickelson. Lefty Bubba Watson is at 3-under 69.
Keegan Bradley, at 1-under 71, is trying to become the first player ever to win his first two starts in a major. He won the PGA last year.
Tiger Woods has now opened the Masters with rounds of 70 or above 17 out of 18 times. The only exception was an opening-round 4-under 68 in 2010. Woods is par-or-better in 18 of his last 19 rounds at the Masters.
He has gone 197 consecutive holes without a double-bogey. His last was the first hole in 2009 third round. It was his only double-bogey in his last 435 holes at the Masters.