Friday, 10 April 2015

US Masters Day 1: Spieth Takes Centre-Stage

The pre-tournament talk may have been about Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, but it was 21 year old Jordan Spieth who edged veteran Ernie Els on day one of the US Masters at Augusta National.
It was a tussle between young lions and old warhorses which dominated the story of the first day of the 2015 masters. Jordan Spieth, at just 21 years of age turning out the victor as he recorded a spectacular eight under par 64, just one shot off the course record. Spieth- as has been characteristic of his short career- was mediocre, but never quite too errant from the tee, but rendered that an irrelevance with superbly shaped shots into the Augusta greens, and a short-game which many are predicting could be among the best the sport has ever seen.

Spieth stole the headlines from one-time leader, Ernie Els, the South African veteran who completed his best round at a major since he won The Open in 2012. Big Ernie enjoyed a wonderful ball-striking round, and looked comfortable on greens which were hugely forgiving by Augusta standards en route to an excellent 67, where he joined three others including Jason Day and Englishman Justin Rose, who was delighted to have left a spell of poor form behind him.
Elsewhere, current champion Bubba Watson and world number one Rory McIlroy hit passable rounds of one under par, but the return of Tiger Woods to competetive golf drew the biggest crowds. His work off the tee was sometimes wayward, but mostly adequate, and he was generally able to save face with his wedge and putter which were back to something near their best. The four time Masters champion seemed positively relieved when he left the course with a score of 73, one over par, knowing he is unlikely to contend, but that he has put the miserably duffed chips of recent rounds behind him.
A special mention must go to Tom Watson. The 65 year old put himself in contention to become the oldest player ever to make the cut at Augusta with a round of one over par which seemed as casual as it was pleasing to watch. The days of threatening the leaders at major championships may be many years in the past for one of the legends of the game, but he still boasts the best swing at the tournament and is well worth his place in the field.

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