Good day for Westwood as he leads; Tiger scratches his way to 72 whilst Rory sits on 71
We are going to have to wait for the “Tiger and Rory Showdown” as both Woods and McIlory failed to excite the crowd on the opening day at Augusta.
A well constructed 67, five under par, by the world No3 Lee Westwood was enough to top the leaderboard.
The Englishman’s round was a faultless display in ball-striking, long off the tee and he crunched his irons close. Almost perfect, however, he may have peaked too soon. Westwood finished one shot better than the 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Sweden’s Peter Hanson, two clear of Paul Lawrie.
The enigmatic Miguel Angel Jiménez is yet again in the mix, as is the young Italian Francesco Molinari.
Woods has another new swing and when the old rotation kicks in, he produces a violent snap-hook. This happened off the tee on four holes and twice he was forced to take penalty drops (2nd and the 18th), but somehow scrambled it round in level-par.
Most other golfers in the field would have carded something in the region of three or four over if they hit the ball in the positions Woods managed. The guy is a genius and is still slap bang in contention.
Rory McIlory, like Woods, was far from his best on day one. Teeing off after his memorable crumble last year couldn’t have been easy; so I can’t imagine how he must have felt on the second tee after slamming a double-bogey down the first.
His tee shot on the first went further right than Nick Griffin’s. To be fair to the young superstar, he recovered immediately with a birdie at the par-five 2nd.
The rest of the day was a struggle but he ended with two birdies on the bounce to finish in red figures. Phil Mickelson was another big name who showed up playing some awful golf; but as with all of the previous winners, Augusta makes them find form from nowhere.
He never gave up, knocking it round in 74 shots, two over par. World No1, Luke Donald, suffered a scorecard scare: 75 was initially reported by the tournament organisers as a 73. Apparently the Englishman was about to be disqualified for signing for the wrong score, but it later emerged the Augusta fax machine was to blame.