In case you missed it (but I’m not sure why you would), The Masters teed off today in Augusta, Georgia. While the tradition unlike any other is always one of the most hyped sporting events of the year, the 2018 edition has had the most dramatic build up in quite some time, thanks to the return of 4-time champion Tiger Woods. Facing a young field filled with old rivals along with younger golfers he inspired to take up the sport. Speaking of that Tiger-inspired generation, Jordan Spieth has the lead after day 1 at -6. So, for Spieth’s 6 under, here are 6 thoughts on the first round at Augusta.
1. Is Jordan Spieth back? After winning the tournament in 2015, Spieth looked poised for a repeat in 2016, before putting a pair of shots into the water of the par-3 12th hole en route to a quadruple-body +7 on the hole on Sunday. The 24 year old has won since then, most recently the 2017 Open Championship, but he hasn’t been the same dominant player he was before the collapse. Now playing with renewed confidence, we’ll see if Spieth can expand on his lead, or if his old demons will come back to haunt him.
2. Tony Finau is the feel-good story of the Tournament. Finau’s story really began earlier in the week, when he appeared to seriously injure his ankle celebrating a shot during the par-3 challenge. Medically cleared after a nasty scare, Finau bounced back to shoot a -4 on Thursday, good for a tie for second place and two shots off the lead. If Tiger isn’t going to win, a guy whose ankle we saw dislocate just a few days ago might be just as fun of an underdog story.
3. Speaking of Tiger Woods…Woods shot an unassuming +1 73 on Thursday, and is tied for 29th after 18 holes. He’s far from out of it, but will need some serious Tiger Magic to make things interesting for the weekend. A better start on Friday (he put his first tee shot Thursday in the rough) should help get things going.
4. Oh No Sergio! Last year’s champion Sergio Garcia, look far from a green jacket golfer on Thursday, taking THIRTEEN shots on the par-5 15th hole. After the way he won last year, it certainly felt like a bit of karma watching him splash time after time after time. While golf fans tend to be a pretty supportive bunch, Garcia has spent most of his career a consensus villain, so for many this may have been the most entertaining part of day 1.
5. Insert fire related pun here. He may have finished with the same +9 as Sergio, but Matt Parziale is much easier to root for. A firefighter from Brockton MA by day, Parziale traveled around the country in his spare time playing in armature tournaments until he could qualify for The Masters. While he is far from the cut, it’s quite the story and he is an easy guy to root for.
6. Pack it in. While Spieth has a multi-shot lead, he should be far from comfortable heading into day two. 10 players are within three shots, with a lot of fun names in that group. Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, and Patrick Reed are just a few who have put themselves in position to make a run come moving day. Even with Tiger well away from the top of the board, this field has been far from disappointing so far.