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Great First Day at The Masters

by Jeff Skinner

Leader Lee Westwood is focused on this major.  His five under 67 matches his best round at Augusta and his driving was superb.  He hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens.  “I’ve won all there is to win other than a major championship. That’s my primary focus and it’s been a long time coming around since the PGA [Championship] last year.”  The putter Lee…the putter.

Forty eight year old Miguel Angel Jimenez continues to defy the aging process.  Miguel was playing with Tiger and being out driven by him by 30-yards each time.  But Miguel proved that his workout regime of wine and cigars beats Tiger’s Navy Seal Training any day.  A three under 69 has the Spaniard in great shape for a tournament he absolutely loves.

Second place finishers Louie Oosthuizen and Peter Hanson turned it on over the back nine to get to four under.  Oosthuizen birdied three of the last four holes and Hanson went three under over the last three holes.

Bubba Watson’s 69 looks like a good round but it could have been much better.  With his length and ability to work it like no one else he should have scored better.  But his short game was inconsistent and his biggest problem is the “five inches between his ears.” Patience grasshopper, patience.

One of my golf gurus gave me a heads up to a good dark horse bet and he was right.  Vijay Singh looked like the “Old Vijay” and his two under has him right in the hunt for a second green jacket.  The 2000 Masters Champion was showing off for his son who is on his bag this week.

Joining Singh in the hunt are fellow fortysomethings, Jim Furyk, the only bogey free round of the day and Steve Stricker who finally got it going on the back with three birdies.

How about Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Cantlay, amateurs making their mark on day one at this Masters.  Cantlay had a great summer last year with the low amateur at the U.S. Open and played great on the PGA Tour.  He’s the number one amateur in the world and a sophomore at UCLA.  What’s even more impressive is his composure, maturity and confidence.  And yes, he thinks he can win The Masters.

Rory McIlroy says all the right things but don’t tell me he didn’t have some jitters on the first tee.  After his opening double bogey he settled down but his driver had other ideas.  Wayward tee balls that only found six of fourteen fairways: he was lucky to get to one under with finishing birds on seventeen and eighteen.  Three weeks off Rory…really?

So Tiger Woods has a bad warm-up session, uses a combo swing of Foley/Haney/Harmon techniques, hits only six fairways and still shoots even par.  He’s good, yes but his driver deserted him in the first round and he can’t win without it.

Is Phil Mickelson the biggest tease in golf or what? He hits some of the worse shots ever, and then follows them with the most amazing shots.  His drive in the tenth was so far left the Coast Guard found it.  He described his hunt for the ball through a newly found jungle at Augusta as “Tarzanyish.”  A triple bogey can kill a round real quick at Augusta.  But give Phil credit he bore down and went two under over the last nine holes with a vintage Phil short game and putting stroke.  We all saw him tightening his adjustable driver on the eighteenth tee.  How long was that thing loose and whose head at Callaway is going to roll?   Bad day for Phil but like he said afterwards, he’s only two over.  He thinks he has a six under round in his bag.  But for god’s sake Phil tighten that driver.

 

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