Saturday, 21 April, 2018

Ian Poulter takes a harrowing path to Augusta National

Martha Burk Chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations talks with the media during Masters week in 2003 Martha Burk Chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations during the 2003 Masters
Edward Snyder | 07 April, 2018, 00:54

Spieth's run of five birdies - from the 13th to the 17th - moved him into pole position, although an up-and-down par save on the 18th hole, after wickedly pulling his tee-shot left into trees, nearly provided as much satisfaction to the American. He drove into the trees at the last but a sublime chip ensured only one dropped shot.

Finau's round of 68, meanwhile, was made all the more remarkable by him playing despite dislocating his ankle after holing a tee shot in Wednesday's par-three contest.

But the biggest story of the round was Garcia.

Spieth, who eagled the par-5 eighth after bogeys at the fifth and seventh holes left him on level par, says being in front helps make Augusta National play easier, all 2016 evidence aside.

But the reinvigorated 42-year-old is among the 87 competitors at Augusta National from Thursday until Sunday looking to claim the green jacket and will hope to move one step closer to Jack Nicklaus' unrivalled record of 18 major triumphs.

"I don't know what to tell you", said Garcia. "It's the first time in my career where I make a 13 without missing a shot".

"This course is a lot easier to play if you feel like you can just hit the center of the greens and wait for your chances".

"It's a miracle just to be out here today after what happened yesterday, so I kind of just went for it", said Finau. "Unfortunately they just didn't continue". Garcia shot an 8-over 13 on the hole.

Sandy Lyle was having a ball on the 30th anniversary of his Masters win until slipping up late on. Since then, he is 9-over at No. 11, with only two birdies.

X-rays were negative. Finau was scheduled for more tests Thursday before teeing off (12:43 p.m.) in the first round at Augusta National. In this case, though, I'm delighted to back Smith at [2.32] compared to yesterday's [2.5], considering the Aussie won by five strokes. He made a 10-foot putt - close to the same length of his eagle putt when he won a year ago - to make a 13, the highest score ever recorded on No. 15.




McIlroy, who would complete a career Grand Slam with a maiden green jacket, shot a 3-under 69 to share fourth position at the end of the opening round.

"This is my best start a few years and it is such a hard course to play catch-up on". I got back to 1-over after playing 12, made a birdie there and thinking hey, I can make some birdies coming in and an under-par round would be a good start to the tournament.

KEY STATISTIC: Spieth took only 10 putts on the back nine.

Fourteen-time Major victor Tiger Woods, who last competed at Augusta in 2015, struck birdies in two of his last five holes to post a one-over 73, ending the day a stroke behind world No1 Dustin Johnson.

Australian former world number one Jason Day also watched his ball hit the drink, literally, when his shot landed in a patron's beer on the opening hole. I figured I had two par fives ahead of me.

Spieth then went on an awesome run of five consecutive birdies from the thirteenth before a wild tee shot on the last hole saw him finish with a bogey.

A birdie at No. 13 commenced an insatiable run.

One moment Garcia was fighting to get back to even par and in contention at the Masters. A 36-foot putt for eagle at 15 was the highlight of his 74, before bogeys at 17 and 18.

Danny Willett, victor two years ago, and fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, were both five over par but recovered two shots to post rounds of 75, Willett making three birdies on the back nine.

Other featured groups, including those featuring world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, two-time Masters victor Bubba Watson and three-time Masters victor Phil Mickelson, were scheduled to tee off later.

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