Masters 2019: Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau share lead at Augusta
|Masters first round leaderboard|
|-6: B Koepka (US), B DeChambeau (US); -5 P Mickelson (US); -4: I Poulter (Eng), D Johnson; -3: J Harding (SA), A Scott (Aus), J Rahm (Spn), K Kisner (US), K Aphibarnrat (Thai).|
|Selected others:-2: T Woods (US), R Fowler (US), J Day (Aus), F Molinari (Ita); -1: T Fleetwood (Eng), B Langer (Ger); +1 S Garcia (Spn), P Reed (US), R McIlroy (NI), T Hatton (Eng); +2 E Pepperell(Eng) +3 J Rose (Eng), J Spieth (US), +9 P Casey. Full leaderboard|
|Day one highlights: Watch on BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and BBC Sport website and app from 09:15 BST on Friday.|
Three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and fellow American Bryson DeChambeau share the lead after an enthralling opening round of the 83rd Masters.
Koepka shot a bogey-free 66 while DeChambeau, who hit the pin with his second shot to the last, tapped in for birdie to also score six under.
Three-time champion Phil Mickelson, bidding to become the oldest major winner in history at the age of 48, is third on five under, while 43-year-old Englishman Ian Poulter is joint fourth alongside world number two Dustin Johnson on four under.
Spain’s Jon Rahm and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott are in a group on three under while four-time champion Tiger Woods is a shot further back on a congested leaderboard.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy began his quest for the only major he is yet to win with a one-over 73, while world number one Justin Rose, who was four over after nine, holed birdies on the 15th and 17th holes as he carded a 75.
Koepka and DeChambeau charge into lead
Koepka, who missed last year’s Masters with a wrist injury, has won three of the past seven majors – defending the US Open title in 2018, before winning the US PGA Championship.
After a solitary birdie on the front nine, he made five in six holes from the 10th before parring the final three.
“I’m super aggressive at a normal event and that kind of backfires sometimes,” Koepka said.
“In a normal event that three-putt for par on eight really would have driven me nuts. I would have been sitting there for probably five minutes trying to figure out what I did wrong, but I just let things go a lot more easily in a major.”
DeChambeau, who uniquely uses irons which all have the same length shaft, also profited on the second nine with birdies on the short 12th and long 13th before becoming the first player in six years to pick up a shot on each of the final four holes.
“I hit my shots beautifully,” said the 25-year-old world number six. “We changed every shaft on the clubs leading into this, it’s pretty cool to understand the dynamics around this and there is something special to come.”
Mickelson had a typically up and down round, taking advantage of both par fives on the first nine to reach two under before bogeys on the 10th and 11th.
However, the left-hander hit back with birdies on the two par threes and two par fives on the second nine before finishing with a flourish by holing his seventh birdie of the round on the last.
“It looked like the bogeys would kill momentum but it was the other way round because I made two great bogeys that should and could have been doubles,” said Mickelson. “That kept me in it and then when I got to the holes I could birdie, I took advantage.”
Woods stakes case for fifth Masters title
On Tuesday, Woods spoke of his belief he could end his decade-long drought in the majors at this year’s Masters and the four-time winner backed up those words with a solid round.
The American was among the early starters and briefly led on three under before a bogey on the 17th dropped him into the chasing pack.
For those of you who like omens, Woods shot 70 in the first round of each of his first three Masters triumphs, however, the last 13 champions (since his last win in 2005) were all inside the top 10 after the opening round.
There were no real fireworks from the 14-time major champion, although a birdie on the par-five 13th sparked a roar that echoed across the course.
However, Woods bogeyed the par-four 17th after hitting his tee shot into the trees, and when he drove into a fairway bunker on the 18th, he also looked to be heading for an untidy finish. But he smashed his ball from the sand on to the green and two-putted from 30 feet.
“It’s not a bad start,” said 43-year-old Woods. “I felt in position to make birdies but I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine.
“I have a late tee on Friday and the wind is supposed to be up so I have my work cut out but so does everyone else.”
The last of Woods’ majors came at the 2008 US Open. Since then he has endured numerous injuries and undergone surgery on his back four times.
He missed the 2016 and 2017 Masters but returned to Augusta last year, finishing joint 32nd, and showed a real return to form at The Open at Carnoustie, where he briefly led on the final day before finishing joint sixth.
Woods then pushed eventual champion Koepka close at the US PGA Championship, recording his best closing round in a major of 64 to finish second and capped off a terrific 2018 by winning the season-ending Tour Championship.
McIlroy ‘made too many mistakes’
McIlroy’s round was bookended by scruffy bogeys. Following a wayward drive down the right on the first, he clattered his second into a tree and was unable to chip and putt for a par.
And a missed par putt from five feet on the 18th, after a bogey on the 17th, saw a round that had flashes of promise, peter out.
The 29-year-old conceded to BBC Sport that he made “too many mistakes”.
“I made six bogeys,” he added. “I made enough birdies, I made five, but I just made too many mistakes so I’m just going to go and address a couple of those little issues.
“I could be starting Friday a couple of shots better but I just have to get off to a good start and try to get myself back into red figures.”
Poulter leads British and Northern Irish hopes
Five birdies and just one bogey signalled a spectacular start for Poulter, who is making his 14th Masters appearance.
“I saw a stat that says at 43 there’s a three per cent chance to get the Green Jacket so I have nothing to lose. I can freewheel,” said the Englishman.
Tommy Fleetwood, who had three birdies and two bogeys in a 71, is the only other British or Northern Irish player under par.
Tyrrell Hatton bogeyed the last to finish one over, while debutant Eddie Pepperell had a mixed bag on the second nine with four bogeys and two birdies as he posted a two-over 74.
Danny Willett, champion in 2016, opened with a 75, as did Wednesday’s par-three winner Matt Wallace, who said he “did not enjoy” his round. “I couldn’t hit a nine-iron on to the green from 125 yards. It was shocking.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick dropped five shots in his closing five holes to finish six over, while Paul Casey closed bogey, double bogey to card a nine-over 81.
Former champions Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam are the only players representing their respective countries. Scotsman Lyle had three birdies in a one-over 73, while Welshman Woosnam had a quadruple-bogey eight on the 11th as he finished eight over.
Fowler makes steady start but Spieth struggles
American Rickie Fowler, many pundit’s pick to finally break his major duck this week, moved quietly around the course and will be satisfied with a two-under start, the same score as Open champion Francesco Molinari.
Australia’s Jason Day overcame a back problem that required on-course attention from a physiotherapist, to also post a two-under 70, as 28 of the 87-strong field returned an under par score.
Defending champion Patrick Reed took advantage of the par-five holes on the back nine, eagling the 13th and birdieing the 15th, but also carded five bogeys as he opened with a one-over 73, the same score as 2017 champion Sergio Garcia.
American Jordan Spieth, winner in 2015, ground out a 75. The 25-year-old, who has dropped to 33 in the world rankings, was four over after nine holes but had eight pars and a birdie on the second nine to keep himself in with an outside chance.
|2019 Masters on the BBC|
|Dates: 11-14 April Venue: Augusta National|
|Coverage: Watch highlights of the first two days before uninterrupted live coverage of the final rounds on BBC Two, with up to four live streams online. Live radio and text commentary of all four days on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Full details|