Friday, April 10, 2009

Champions of The Game at The Masters

The first round at this years Masters is filled with past champions at the top of the leaderboard.

The back nine at Augusta yesterday was where most players scored, especially after they left amen corner. Chad Campbell was an exception with his phenomenal string of five straight birdies out the gate to a first round lead of 7-under 65. Had Campbell not pulled his tee shots off the last two holes, the course record 63 might have very well been achieved. But, while Campbell’s round was impressive, 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk played his round to a bogey-free 6-under 66, just one stroke back. Hunter Mahan had nine birdies and two bogeys to tie Furyk and also remain one stroke off the lead. Shingo Katayama and Larry Mize were just two strokes back posting 5-under 67’s, with both players recording only one bogey on their cards. The next eight players scored 4-under 68’s, just three strokes off the lead, that included 2007 U.S. Open champ Angel Cabrera, 2004 British Open champ Todd Hamilton, 2003 Master’s champion Mike Weir, 1987 Master’s winner Larry Mize, and the ever dangerous Kenny Perry. 2007 British Open champ Padraig Harrington scattered five birdies and two bogeys for a 3-under 69, just four shots off the early lead. Other notables that shot 2-under 70’s, five shots back, include Lee Westwood who recorded 13 top 10 finishes in 2008, including runner up four times at the US Open, World Golf Hall of Famer and two-time British Open champion Greg Norman at the age of 54, along with two-time Master’s winner and also a World Golf Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention four-time Master’s champion, and still the worlds number one ranked golfer Tiger Woods is also in the field at 2-under carding four birdies and two bogeys in keeping with his “tradition” of never scoring a first round at the Masters in the sixties. Defending Masters Champion Trevor Immelman opened his title defense with 71, six shots off the pace.

Disappointments included Michelson, Garcia, Ogilvy, Villegas, and V. J. Singh, (who are in the top ten in the world rankings), all shot one over par 73’s, eight shots off the lead. Past Masters champs Ben Crenshaw and Freddy Couples were also at one over. Seventy-four year old legend and three-time Masters Champion Gary Player shot a six over par 78 in what he says will be his last full performance at Augusta.

Needless to say, there are a lot of Champions and past Champions at the top of the leader-board after the first round of the 2009 Masters. Bobby Jones would be in good company.

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