Rose's 65 leaves him at -7 under; Lee Elder Recognized at the Ceremonial First Tee Shots
Since 1934, the Masters has been played at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The event kicks off the major championship season and this year history was made before the first shot was played. For the first time, an African American player was recognized as an honorary starter. In fact, 86-year-old Lee Elder was the first black man to play in the event, back in 1975. He joined Gary Player and six-time Masters’ champion Jack Nicklaus on the first tee for the honorary tee shots.
Once play began, it was time for the best in the world to fight for the legendary Green Jacket, a coveted major championship, and a purse of $11.5 million. Taking control in round one was Justin Rose, former world number one from England. The 40-year-old got off to a rough start with a bogey on the first and was +2 after seven. An eagle on the par five 8th kickstarted his round. Rose proceeded to birdie the 9th, 10th, 12th, and 13th holes, with a par added in on the 11th for good measure. After a par on 14, Rose ran off three more birdies before securing a par on 18 for a round of 65.
Rose finished four shots clear of Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama. Harman had a steady round of four birdies and a bogey, while Matsuyama had two birdies, an eagle on the 8th and a bogey on 17. Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed were one of four players five shots back at –2. Reed’s rollercoaster ride included bogeys on the par five 13th and par four 18th, with birdies mixed in on 2, 8, 16 and 17. The only other players to break par on a day where the greens were lightning fast were Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Jason Kokrak, Si Woo Kim, and Jordan Spieth. For Spieth, who won last week in Texas, his triple-bogey 7 on the 9th put him behind the eight-ball as he made the turn for his second nine. A birdie on the 10th and eagle on the 15th kept him in the mix after 18 holes.
Among the seven players lurking at even par were Jon Rahm, Kevin Kisner, Marc Leishman, and Xander Schauffele. Viktor Hovland, a 23-year-old from Norway, got off to a horrendous start with a triple-bogey 7 on the first hole, but rebounded to finish his round with a one-over 73. Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas were also at +1. Among those at +2 were Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, defending champion Dustin Johnson, and past champions Bernhard Langer, Bubba Watson, and Adam Scott.
The highlight for Fleetwood was a hole-in-one on the par-3, 16th. That was the only hole of the day in which he was under par. The ageless Langer, at 63-years young, had it to even par before back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18. Defending champion Dustin Johnson’s up-and-down day had him in position to post a score under par before he was derailed by a bogey on 16 and a disastrous double-bogey on the last.
Other notables who are well back include Phil Mickelson and Kevin Na at +3, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, and Rory McIlroy at +4, Jason Day and Zach Johnson at +5, Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood at +6, with Fred Couples at +7.