With higher than usual winds, and a dry Augusta, the first round of The Masters 2021 was always going to be a lot tougher than it was back when the course was wet back in November. And so it proved with just 12 players managing to break par on the opening day.
Justin Rose leads the event after by far the best and most impressive round of the day. The British star, who has not been in the best of form of late, found inspiration after a slot start left him two-over after seven holes, but he played the remaining 11 holes in nine-under to finish -7 and four shots clear of his nearest challenger.
It is the fourth time Rose has led the Masters after the first round, a feat shared only with Jack Nicklaus, but unlike Nicklaus he hasn’t converted any of those performances into a victory as yet.
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Unfamiliar Names At The Top Of The Leaderboard
Of the remaining 11 players that went under par, only Hideki Matsuyama (-3), Webb Simpson & Patrick Reed (-2) and Jordan Spieth (-1) were amongst the top picks in the betting pre tournament. Brian Harman is joint second with Matsuyama on -3, with Will Zalatoris and Christiaan Bezuidenhout on -2 the same as Reed and Simpson while Kim Si Woo, Jason Kokrak, Shane Lowry and Tyrrell Hatton are all tied with Spieth on -1.
19 players are at par or better in the event, with Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, Kevin Kisner and Marc Leishman amongst those at even par.
Struggles For The Pre-Tournament Favourites
On a tough day on course, some of the pre-tournament favourites found life a little tougher at Augusta. The usually unflappable Patrick Cantlay shot 79 to lie at +7. In form pair Lee Westwood and Matt Kuchar fared little better both posting +6 scores. Jason Day and Zach Johnson both managed +5.
The majority of the field seem to be between +1 and +4 for the tournament and this includes the likes of Brooks Koepka (+2), Justin Thomas (+1), Tony Finau (+2), Phil Mickelson (+3), Rory McIlroy (+4), Bryson DeChambeau (+4) and Dustin Johnson (+2).
It was a particularly tough day for DeChambeau who was +5 after 12 holes but managed to play the last six holes in -1 to put himself in a better position in the event. His power-first mantra clearly did not pay off as Augusta bared its teeth and blunted his distance advantage.
Tommy Fleetwood probably earned himself the shot of the day honours for his hole in one at the 16th that moved him from +4 to +2 in one sweep of the club.
Rory McIlroy earned the opposite honor after his wayward shot at the 7th clattered into the leg of a spectator, who just happened to be the Irishman’s father.
Almost all interviews with the top players followed the same pattern with many saying that it was tough on the course, they struggled as a result but they hoped to put themselves in a better position in Round 2.
There are a significant number of players who will feel that is very much the case when they tee off later today.
Latest Betting Odds Following Round 1
BetMGM Sportsbook have updated the odds for tournament winner market followingDay 1 of The Masters and Justin Rose has come in from being an 80/1 or even 90/1 with some bookmakers to just 4/1 after his stunning opening round display.
Rose is the clear favourite ahead of Jordan Spieth at 15/2, with Jon Rahm a 12/1 shot alongside Patrick Reed. Justin Thomas is a 14/1 chance with Hideki Matsuyama a 16/1 chance. The pre-tournament favourite Dustin Johnson is 20/1 along with Webb Simpson.
Other players riding high after Day 1 on the leaderboard are Brian Harman (28/1), Tyrrell Hatton (28/1), Will Zalatoris (40/1) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (45/1).
With just 12 players going under par on a tough and windy first day, it is going to be an interesting second day ahead as some players will be battling to play their way back into the tournament and avoid the cut, while others will seek to capitalise on a decent start and move up the leaderboard.
For Justin Rose, after leading the Masters on the first day for the fourth time in his career, but never having won the event, he may never get a better chance to do so after that electric opening round.