A patron sculls his beer after Jason Day’s ball landed in it during the Masters. (AP: Chris Carlson)
[Jordan Spieth’s quest for a second Green Jacket is off to a dazzling start.
The 24-year-old Texan birdied five straight holes on the back side to finish with a six-under 66, giving him a two-shot lead after the opening round.
But the American’s form was overshadowed by more quirky events, with Australian Jason Day hitting his ball into a spectator’s beer cup on his second shot of the day and Spain’s Sergio Garcia hitting the equal worst-ever hole at Augusta National.
Spieth made eagle at the par-5 eighth hole, but things really got rolling at the 13th. That’s where he began the stretch of five straight birdies, which suddenly made him the man to beat.
This is Spieth’s fifth Masters. He won in 2015 and finished in a tie for second two other times. His worst showing was a year ago, when he tied for 11th. He’s played 17 career rounds at Augusta — shooting in the 60s six times.
Jordan Spieth made an ideal start to the Masters, shooting a 6-under 66 in the opening round. (AP: Matt Slocum)
Spieth would’ve had an even bigger lead if not for trouble at the 18th, where an errant tee shot into the trees left of the fairway led to a bogey. But even there, he showed off some magic, chipping up from the edge of the gallery for a tap-in putt.
Amazingly, he needed only 10 putts to get through the back nine.
Matt Kuchar and Finau are Spieth’s closest challengers.
Both shot 68, which was a truly amazing performance by Finau considering he dislocated his left ankle just 24 hours earlier while celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par 3 Contest.
The group at 69 includes Rory McIlroy, who’s going for the career Grand Slam, and Henrik Stenson.
Tiger Woods, one of the pre-tournament favourites, sits back in the field after shooting one over.
Garcia’s chances drowned at the 15th
Defending champion Garcia racked up 13 strokes at the par-5 15th without hitting a bad shot, he said after matching the highest score recorded at any hole in the US Masters.
Garcia’s hopes of consecutive Green Jackets were in tatters after his meltdown at Augusta National.
In scenes more resembling the fictional movie Tin Cup than a major championship, Garcia drowned five balls in the pond guarding the green.
His second shot, with a six-iron from 187 metres, cleared the water but rolled back in, leaving Garcia to lament a game of centimetres.
“I thought it was perfect, straight at the flag,” the Spaniard said after carding nine-over-par 81.
“If it carries probably [60 centimetres], it’s probably good.”
Sergio Garcia found the water five times on his way to the equal worst-ever hole in Masters history. (AP: David J Phillip)
There was less excuse for the subsequent four shots he struck with his sand wedge.
He cleared the water each time, but imparted too much backspin and watched in exasperation as ball after ball trickled back into the drink.
It was a record high score at the hole.
The previous worst was 11, by three players — Jumbo Ozaki in 1987, Ben Crenshaw in 1998 and Ignacio Garrido in 1999.
Garcia also matched Tom Weiskopf and Tommy Nakajima for the worst score at a single hole in the Masters.
Weiskopf’s 13 occurred at the par-3 12th in 1980, while Nakajima’s 13 was at the par-5 13th in 1978.
Aussies in contention
Victorian Marc Leishman remains in the hunt after his first round, sitting four shots off the pace with a two-under after shooting 70.
Leishman, who is grouped with golf great Woods, made a perfect start to his day by picking up four birdies in his first 14 holes but hit a double-bogey seven at the par-5 15th to fall back.
Queensland’s Cameron Smith is one shot behind after shooting one-under-par.
It wasn’t such a great start for Day who sent his second shot of the day into a spectator’s beer cup.
Day, who entered the competition among the favourites, was granted a free drop but still managed to bogey the first hole.
The Queenslander ended up with a three-over 75, a score matched by fellow Aussie Adam Scott.