By Andrew Every
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – A wild perform left Dustin Johnson five photos in the help of the leaders on Thursday because the defending Masters champion faced much fiercer stipulations at Augusta National as compared to the toothless structure he triumphed on five months up to now.
This Masters has a much more acquainted put as it’s miles help in its archaic April slot because the yr’s first predominant while fans had been welcomed help, albeit in restricted numbers and with protocols in instruct to nick the chance of COVID-19 transmission.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, bolstered by an eagle on the par-five eighth, and Brian Harman fired three-below-par 69s to allotment the first-spherical clubhouse lead.
Ragged U.S. Initiate champion Webb Simpson, Masters debutant Will Zalatoris and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout had been all one shot help.
“It be playing undoubtedly rather a lot tougher simply attributable to when the greens are firm and quickly right here the golf route performs advanced,” Johnson acknowledged. “And likewise you add the wind in as of late it played if truth be told advanced I thought.”
World quantity one Johnson (74) used to be one below when he reached the par-three 16th nonetheless made bogey after his tee shot rolled off the fairway. He carded a double-bogey at 18 after his tee shot sailed successfully factual of the fairway.
Johnson, whose 20-below-par 268 total closing yr used to be the bottom in the match’s ancient past, is making an strive to place himself in elite company as Jack Nicklaus, Gash Faldo and Tiger Woods are essentially the most efficient three gamers to resolve help to help Masters titles.
World quantity three Jon Rahm (72), who is competing five days after his well-known other gave birth to their first child, blended two birdies with two bogeys.
Rory McIlroy (76) made an inauspicious launch to his latest instruct to total the career Big Slam as he carded his worst opening spherical on the Masters and even hit his father’s leg with an errant map shot that led to one his six bogeys.
Bryson DeChambeau, whose instruct to overpower Augusta National closing November when he used to be the pre-match favourite failed, used to be three over by seven holes after a tough stretch that incorporated a double-bogey on the par-three fourth the place he stumbled on a bush alongside with his tee shot and barely chopped it out.
Justin Thomas, who has improved in each and every of his five Masters begins and carried out fourth in November, used to be also three over after seven holes while frail champion Jordan Spieth, new off his resolve closing week on the Texas Initiate, used to be even after six holes.
Festivities started hours earlier when a clearly moved Lee Elder, who in 1975 grew to change into the first Dark man to compete in the Masters, used to be warmly welcomed as he joined Nicklaus and Gary Participant as a brand fresh honorary starter for the 2021 match.
A intellectual sun had barely risen over the clubhouse when 86-yr-venerable Elder used to be pushed to the first tee in a golf cart as a brand fresh predominant season dawned.
“I specialise in it used to be one among essentially the most emotional experiences that I’ve ever witnessed or been alive to on,” Elder acknowledged.
“It is undoubtedly something that I will take care of for the relaxation of my lifestyles attributable to I’ve liked coming to Augusta National and playing right here.”
Elder has restricted mobility and didn’t hit a tee shot.
(Reporting by Andrew Every; Writing by Frank Pingue; Bettering by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)