Masters Thursday: "Nothing Counts More At Augusta Than Experience"

What was the biggest story Tiger's bogey-free round or Sandy Lyle's braces?

Masters Thursday Review
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

Sandy Lyle

 Sandy Lyle in his braces. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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.

Masters Leaderboard 2020

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.

WATCH: Bryson DeChambeau Struggles To 7 On 13

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.

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Stewart Golf R1-S Push Cart Review

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Editor At Large

Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill  was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.