AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The Latest from the first round of the Masters (all times local):
Jon Rahm overcame a four-putt double bogey on the opening hole to finish at 7-under 65 and tied for the first round lead with Viktor Hovland and LIV golfer Brooks Koepka at the Masters.
Cameron Young and Jason Day are two shots back after posting 67s. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler is three shots back after shooting 68.
There was some question about whether Rahm, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, would be able to regain his momentum after a rough March that included back-to-back rounds of 76 at the Arnold Palmer Invitation, withdrawing from the Players Championship because of a stomach illness and an early exit at the WGC-Dell Match Play event.
But the world’s No. 3-ranked player appears back on his game after making an eagle and seven birdies.
Five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods shot 74.
Brooks Koepka has fired the biggest shot for the upstart LIV tour on the opening day of the Masters.
Koepka, one of the best-known players to accept a lucrative offer from the Saudi-backed tour, opened with a 7-under 65 that left him tied for the lead with Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm at Augusta National.
Others in the LIV contingent included reigning British Open champion Cameron Smith, who started the Masters with a 70, and Patrick Reed with a 71. Then there was two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who struggled to a 77.
Rahm’s 65 was especially impressive after he opened with a four-putt double bogey on the first hole.
The Spaniard played the remaining holes in a remarkable 9-under par, tallying seven birdies and an eagle.
Rahm arrived at Augusta National as the world’s No. 3-ranked player, with three PGA Tour wins already already this season but looking to regain some momentum after a difficult March. He withdraw from the Players Championship after the first round due to a stomach illness, and back-to-back 76s at the Arnold Palmer Invitational gave him his worst finish since last July.
Rahm has four top 10 finishes in six appearances at Masters. His best showing was fourth in 2018. ___
Augusta National took another surprising step toward modernization: The Masters allowed for a walk-and-talk during the opening round when Rory McIlroy answered questions for the ESPN telecast while playing the ninth fairway.
CBS, which is producing the Masters, first broke out the technology at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Trevor Immelman was in the booth and held a Q-and-A with Max Homa as he played the 13th hole. Homa went on to win.
NBC also did the walk-and-talk with a player during the six weeks leading to the Masters.
But the Masters?
There was McIlroy, going so far as to tell viewers his yardage and what club he would be hitting into the ninth green. McIlroy signed off before attempting his long birdie putt.
“I’m happy to be the first one to do it,” he said.
Tiger Woods struggled in the first round at the Masters, but his playing partners on Thursday sure didn’t.
Viktor Hovland, the No. 9 player in the world, is the early leader in the clubhouse after shooting a 7-under 65, just two shots off the tournament record shared by Nick Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996). The Norwegian shot 35 on the front nine and played a bogey-free round.
Several players are still on the course.
Xander Schauffele, the other member of the Woods, Hovland threesome, also played well and is tied for sixth after an opening round 68.
The 47-year-old Woods struggled all day with his iron play but got back to 1 over after birdies at No. 15 and 16. However, the five-time Masters champion bogeyed the final hole and finished with a 74, leaving him nine shots behind Hovland. ____
Sergio Garcia is tired of hearing about the tension between LIV and PGA Tour players at the Masters.
The former champion says it doesn’t exist.
Garcia, now a member of the LIV Tour, said things have been “totally normal” between the players from the two tours this week at Augusta National, before adding “You guys need to stop it. (The media) are making a big deal out of this.”
When challenged that it is not, Garcia doubled down, saying, “Yes, it is. I’ve had nothing but great things from every single player I talk to. So please stop it and talk about the Masters.”
Garcia shot 74 on Thursday and is nine shots behind leader Viktor Hovland.
Defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler has teed off at Augusta National, while Will Zalatoris has withdrawn from the tournament before ever stepping on the course.
Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player, won last year’s tournament by three strokes over Rory McIlroy.
Zalatoris, the No. 8 ranked player in the world, has struggled with back issues in the past.
He was the runner-up at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open last year went on to win his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. However, the following week at the BMW Championship, he suffered two herniated disks during a tee shot, ending his season.
The 26-year-old Zalatoris finished tied for sixth last year at the Masters, seven shots behind Scheffler.
Norway’s Viktor Hovland has raced to the early first round lead at the Masters at 5-under par through nine holes on an 81-degree day at Augusta National.
Hovland is one of 16 golfers under par with the afternoon groups set to tee off.
He has seven career wins but has never won at major, eagled the par-5 second hole to gain some early momentum and followed with birdies at Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to record a 31 on the front nine.
Hovland is playing in the same threesome with Tiger Woods, who is seven shots back at 2 over.
Tiger Woods is off to a rough start at the Masters.
The 47-year-old five-time champion is 2 over after five holes following bogeys at the par 4 third and fifth holes. Woods has fallen five shots behind leader Cameron Young, who leads the field at 3 under.
Woods is competing in his 25th Masters.
Tiger Woods opened his 25th Masters with a par on the first hole at Augusta National while playing in front of a huge crowd, many stacked rows deep standing on tippy toes hoping to catch a glimpse of the generational star.
Even before Woods took to the course, fans flocked to see him on the practice tee.
The five-time champion is now 47 and admitted earlier this week he’s not sure how many more Masters tournaments he has in him.
Woods, who walks with noticeable limp at times, is still recovering from a car crash in suburban Los Angeles where he crushed bones so badly in his legs that doctors contemplated amputation.
Woods has only played in one PGA Tour event this year, the Genesis Invitational, where he finished tied for 45th place at 1-under 283. He last won the Masters in 2019.
LIV golfer Kevin Na has withdrawn from the Masters due to an undisclosed illness after shooting 40 on the front nine. Na was one of 18 golfers from the Saudi-backed tour competing this week at Augusta National.
Na had finished tied for 12th place three times at the Masters, most recently in 2021.
LIV golfer Louis Oosthuizen shares the very early lead at the Masters at 1 under, although fellow tour member Kevin Na is bringing up the rear five shots backs of the leaders.
So far eight of the tour’s 18 golfers at the Masters are on the course, including former Masters champions Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia. The others are all even par.
Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will tee it up later in the day.
LIV CEO Greg Norman told the Daily Telegraph earlier in the week that he expects if one of the tour’s 18 players wins the Masters they’ll all be there to congratulate him on the 18th green similar to a Ryder Cup win.
Norman was not extended an invitation to the Masters this year with tournament chairman Fred Ridley saying he wanted to keep the focus to be on the competition on the course.
LIV golfer Kevin Na and 2003 champion Mike Weir launched their drives down the first fairway at Augusta National, signaling the official start of the 87th Masters.
Na is one of 18 players from the polarizing Saudi Arabia-backed golf league participating in the event, which is almost certain to make this “a tournament unlike any other.”
The start of the four-day event came after honorary starters and longtime fan favorites Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson thrilled the crowd with their traditional tee shots on hole No. 1.
Player was greeted on the tee with a smile by Masters Chairman Fred Ridley a week after the tournament’s first international champion told the Times of London he did not feel welcome at Augusta National. Player said he had to “beg a member to play with us” when he wanted to play a round with family members,” and that “if it wasn’t for the players, it would be just another golf course in Georgia.”
Nicklaus, who walked with a noticeable limp, joked with the crowd before bending over to put his tee in the ground saying. “that’s the hardest part.”
Headliners in this year’s tournament are scheduled to tee off later today.
Tiger Woods, four years removed from capturing his fifth green jacket, is set to tee off at 10:18. Defending champion and world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler tees off at 1:36, followed by Rory McIlroy at 1:48.
The 87th Masters tees off this morning amid the blooming azaleas and towering pines of Augusta National Golf Club.
From the renegade LIV tour to Scottie Scheffler’s bid for a second straight green jacket to an elongated 13th hole, golf’s first major of the year provides its usual abundance of compelling storylines.
And don’t forget about five-time champion Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, who is looking to complete a career grand slam.
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