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Live Blog: Opening Round of the Masters Tournament

By: Kara Apel Email
By: Kara Apel Email

Thursday, April 5, 2012

9 a.m.

We're almost two hours into the first round of the Masters Tournament, and Augusta National is buzzing with excitement.

The tournament kicked off with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters at 7:40 a.m. this morning. You can watch the video from Masters.com here. Even Phil Mickelson joined the crowd of patrons to watch.

In a news conference immediately afterward, Player called the experience "a great thrill."

The trio, known as "The Big Three," competed against one another for years.

"We've even cried together," Player said.

But this morning, it wasn't about competing against each other -- it was about the honor of starting off the tournament.

Plus, Nicklaus said they didn't even check who hit the farthest.

"I don't think any of us can see that far," he laughed.

Despite a health scare during the Arnold Plamer Invitational, Palmer said he's "fine," saying his blood pressure problems were part of a reaction to some medication.

This morning's news conference was filled with many laughs, but one thing all three of the golf legends agreed on was that that golf is getting too expensive.

"We need to keep people in the game, not push them out," Nicklaus said.

The most notable quote from the news conference by far, though, came from Palmer.

"You guys kept saying you're gonna quit at 35 ... I said, 'bulls**t,'" he said to Player and Nicklaus about when their careers were winding down.

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Meanwhile, members of the media have taken their stances and are ready to report from the media center at Augusta National. The picture doesn't even do this place justice:

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To keep up with the scores from the tournament, here.

10:35 a.m.

Some bad news about the weather from News 12's Chief Meteorologist Shane Butler: "We are under a slight risk for severe storms later today. Strong instability will develop today ahead of an approaching cold front. Numerous thunderstorms will develop. Some of the thunderstorms will likely contain damaging wind and hail. Tornadoes could possibly occur. The threat timing will be mainly between 3 p.m. and midnight."

1:53 p.m.

Just saw this from The Associated Press:

Obama believes women should be admitted to Augusta National

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A White House spokesman says President Barack Obama believes women should be admitted as members to the all-male Augusta National, home of the Masters golf tournament.

White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama's "personal opinion is that women should be admitted" to the golf club.

Carney was asked about the issue Thursday. He says it's "up to the club to decide" but he also said that Obama told him he personally thinks women should be welcome.

One of the club's longtime sponsors, IBM, has a new female CEO, Virginia Rometty. The last four CEOs at IBM, all male, have been invited to be members.

The chairman of Augusta National this week has said the club will decide for itself whom to allow in its ranks.

1:50 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm watch has just been issued for Richmond County (Augusta) until 9 p.m.

2:25 p.m.

Spent some time on the course earlier this morning and saw quite a few golfers go through the 9th hole.

Larry Mize hit the ball into the crowd on the ninth hole, causing patrons to have to move out of the way.

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But Mize still got a pretty good shot out of it:

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Tiger Woods hit the ball into the pine straw on the first hole, causing patrons to flock for a glimpse.

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Robert Karlsson (Sweden) also hit the ball into the crowd on the ninth.

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Ben Crenshaw was definitely a crowd favorite.

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Martin Kaymer (Germany) consults with his caddie on how to best go about the shot.

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Aaron Baddeley (Australia) stares down the hole.

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Jason Day (Australia) talks with the caddies before taking his turn to putt.

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Kyle Stanley takes a shot out of a bunker on the ninth hole.

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Rickie Fowler on the ninth after making his shot.

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Trevor Immelman (South Africa) checks out his shot as Fowler looks on.

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Justin Rose (England) takes his shot.

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Fowler heading to the 10th hole.

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Jonathan Byrd and Paul Casey (England) wait on the first hole.

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Byrd takes a practice swing.

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Brandt Snedeker practices putting before starting the course.

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Chairs were set up at the 18th hole in preparation for the end of the first round.

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5 p.m.

Rickie Fowler talks to the media after shooting 74.

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The media surrounds one of the players outside the clubhouse.

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The crowd outside the 18th hole.

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My view of the course.

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Announcer Johnny Paulk entertains the patrons with golf trivia.

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Henrik Stenson (Sweden) shoots from the patrons' seating area.

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Gary Woodland and Alvaros Quiros (Spain) wait for Stenson to make his shot.

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Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) and Kelly Kraft on the 18th hole.

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Schwartzel looks toward the hole before making his shot.

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Tiger Woods shoots the ball into the crowd.

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The patrons clear the area for Tiger.

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Woods aims for the hole.

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Woods after he finished the opening round.

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5:10 p.m.

It was just announced that there are questions about Luke Donald's scorecard. It is currently being reviewed.

Also, it was announced earlier today that Mark O'Meara is injured and will not participate in the tournament.

Some fun facts about this year's tournament from Augusta National:

  • There are 109 invitees and 96 players. There are 15 first-time players.
  • Of the 15 first-time players, five are amateurs and 10 are professionals.
  • There are expected be 27 honorary non-participating invitees this year.

5:15 p.m.

From News 12 Meteorologist Vicki Graf: "About to see some heavy rain in Augusta in the next 15 minutes. Strong winds expected as well."

5:50 p.m.

Some dark-looking clouds are starting to roll over Augusta National and the wind is picking up.

A picture of the clouds over the 18th hole:

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Sarah, Kevin and Estelle are prepared to do this live shot for the 6 o'clock ... rain or shine!

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6 p.m.

At this point, play is still in session, despite the ominous clouds rolling in.

Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood are tied for first place at -4.

6:10 p.m.

It has just been announced Luke Donald is not disqualified. The incident was called an "administrative error."

Also, if you want to watch the Masters online tomorrow, you can! Augusta National just released the following information about tomorrow's Featured Group channels. You can find that information here.

It's also starting to rain, but play is still in session.

7:45 p.m.

And the first round of the Masters is officially over.

Lee Westwood is in the lead after shooting 67, but Peter Hanson and Louis Oosthuizen are one stroke behind him.

Patrons check out the rankings at the end of the day.

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8 p.m.

Rory McIlroy talked about his first round. He said he's hoping to hang in there even after that disappointing double bogey on the first hole.

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McIlroy after finishing the 18th hole.

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McIlroy on the 18th.

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Bubba Watson, who was paired with Rory McIlroy today, finished tied for fourth place.

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Watson and McIlroy after finishing the 18th hole.

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Phil Mickelson was in the last group to hit the 18th hole on Thursday. Dedicated fans waited through the rain to see him.

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