What happened on Masters Thursday? Bill Elliott takes a look back at the opening day and the significant surge of a familiar favourite
It started and then it stopped, the rain pelting down. Three hours later it started again with Sandy Lyle emerging from the trees wearing braces and looking like a Georgia peanut farmer on a day out. Welcome to the strangest Masters Thursday ever.
No fans, no stands, no ropes, no real atmosphere but still quietly, relentlessly terrific. And then this strangest of weeks turned normal, Tiger Woods normal.
The great man – or at least great golfer – arrived in Augusta out of form, out of sorts, apparently out of contention.
We all should have known better. The Masters for Tiger is a shower, a shave and an adrenalin shot. He is not leading after a day that never finished but he is back in shape and back where he usually is at this place, towards the top.
What impressed was his poise, his balance, his calmness, his studied swing and, his most priceless asset, his knowledge of this place. Nothing counts more at Augusta than experience and day one confirmed this thought once again.
Bryson Dechambeau might have the length but Woods has the breadth…five Masters wide, 15 Majors high. Size here matters and, for now, he and a few others are leading the way.
There they were illuminating the leaderboard – Paul Casey leading the way at seven under par and 43 years of age, Woods, 44, tucked in alongside Lee Westwood, 47, on four under. Right now this Masters truly is a golf week for the middle-ages.
What bounds these players together is their experience, what may yet undo them is the thought that maintaining momentum as tiredness seeps in over the weekend will be difficult.
Not, however, impossible as Jack Nicklaus proved when he won his sixth Masters aged 46, 34 years ago.
If the older guys were impressive then the most recent upstart also showed rare restraint and patience.
We knew DeChambeau was going full throttle at this Masters and when he stumbled to a double bogey seven at the 13th ( his fourth hole of the day ) I waited for him to further implode. He didn’t.
Instead he showed rare patience as he stuck to his game plan to claw his way back towards respectability with a 70.
His plan remains intact. For now. Fact is that it is great to have a plan but few schemes survive the week. Stuff happens, or doesn’t happen. We know what the Baron’s strategy is, what we don’t know is if he has a fallback scheme. We’ll soon find out.
First though this first day must be completed. Maybe Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas will ravage their way through their remaining holes before the second round begins.
Maybe everything will turn upside down before Friday tea time. It’s going to be fun finding out.
Meanwhile dear old Sandy Lyle – he’s 62 – said he wore braces because otherwise his shirt keeps coming out of his pants. As a reason for choosing to look like the class clown, this, ladies and gentlemen, is a belter. The Masters never disappoints.
Early Black Friday Deals –
Titleist Pro V1 Balls
£41.95 £36.95 at Scottsdale Golf
Without doubt one of the best balls out there, the Pro V1 is below £37 at the moment – a real bargain. It’s also in the sale in the yellow colour, too.
Garmin Approach S60 GPS Watch
£399.99 £299.99 at American Golf
If you are in the market for a GPS watch then Garmin make some of the best. This S60 is a case in point. It looks fantastic and has over 40,000 courses loaded onto it, you can use it’s drag-and-drop functionality to measure distances, hazards, and move pin positions. It can also be used to monitor runs, swims and bike rides for great additional value.
Callaway Chrome Soft X Golf Balls
$47.99 $39.99 with Worldwide Golf Shops
A model that proves popular out on Tour, the ball is constructed with an improved urethane cover which delivers increased ball speed on full shots. Right now you can get $8 off on the Chrome Soft X balls if you want firmer feel and lower spin with the driver.
Stewart Golf R1-S Push Cart
$540 $229.99 with Rock Bottom Golf
Stewart Golf has improved its R1 Push cart with this R1-S model. During testing we thought the folding mechanism worked excellently and the ease of use when walking and pushing it makes it one of the best golf carts around. Add a splash of colour and a huge saving and you have a winner.
Stewart Golf R1-S Push Cart Review
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