MASTERS LIVE BLOG: Updates for Thursday, April 6, 2023
Check here throughout the day for the latest updates from the course at Augusta National Golf Club
8:45 p.m.: The opening round of the Masters at a glance
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Here’s A brief look at the opening round of the Masters:
AT THE TOP: Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland shot rounds of 7-under 65 to sit atop the leaderboard, while Cameron Young and Jason Day were two shots back of them on a good day for scoring at Augusta National.
CHASING: Defending champion Scottie Scheffler was in a pack at 4 under that includes major winners Shane Lowry and Adam Scott, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Masters triumph. Xander Schauffele also was in that group.
LIMPING: Tiger Woods had just three birdies against five bogeys and opened with a 74, leaving the the five-time champion in danger of missing the cut at the Masters for the first time as a professional.
GOING LOW: U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett is also at 4 under after a pair of birdies and a chip-in eagle during his bogey-free round. It was the lowest by an amateur in a major since Hovland shot 67 in the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
GONE HOME: Will Zalatoris withdrew before his starting time with an injury; he herniated two disks in his back on a tee shot last year and wound up missing the rest of the season. Kevin Na also with drew after nine holes with an illness.
LIVE AND LET LIVE: Koepka led the LIV Golf contingent, which had just six of its 18 players under par. Among those were British Open champion Cameron Smith at 2 under and three-time Masters champ Phil Mickelson at 1 under.
WALK AND TALK: In a surprise for TV viewers, the ESPN telecast had in-round interviews with Rory McIlroy and Max Homa on Thursday. CBS, which is producing the Masters, first broke out the technology at the Farmers Insurance Open.
HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS: The weather was hot and humid for the opening round, but rain is expected to move in Friday afternoon. It is expected to last into Sunday, and the forecast for the weekend calls for high temperatures in the 50s.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Rahm, who opened with a double bogey, stuck an 8-iron to 3 feet on the 18th for birdie to wrap up his round. It was his fourth birdie over the final six holes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You look at the leaderboard, it’s very, very stacked right now. I mean, any one of those guys can win easily, and there’s big names on that leaderboard right now.” — Jason Day.
UP NEXT: All tee times Thursday were moved up 30 minutes because of the threat of rain, so Cameron Champ and Jose Maria Olazabal will lead off at 7:30 a.m. EDT.
TELEVISION: Friday, 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. EDT (ESPN).
6:58 p.m.: Start times pushed up for Friday
AUGUSTA, Ga. - With inclement weather expected Friday, start times have been pushed up by half an hour in Round 2 of the Masters.
Augusta National Golf Club issued this statement: “Due to potential inclement weather on Friday, all starting times will be moved up 30 minutes. The first starting time will be at 7:30 a.m. off the No. 1 tee. Ticket gates will open at 7 a.m., as previously scheduled.”
6:16 p.m.: No wrongdoing found after Koepka caddie questioned
AUGUSTA, Ga. - After completion of Brooks Koepka’s round, the Augusta National Golf Club Competition Committee officials questioned his caddie and others in the group about a possible incident on Hole 15.
“All involved were adamant that no advice was given or requested,” Augusta National said Thursday evening in a bulletin. “Consequently, the Committee determined that there was no breach of the Rules. "
6:10 p.m.: Koepka benefits from early momentum in first round
AUGUSTA, Ga. - After the first round of the 2023 Masters Tournament, Brooks Koepka is tied for the lead at 65 along with Jon Rahm and Vicvtor Hovland.
After he was finished with the round Thursday, he offered a brief interview session.
Asked what gave him the momentum, he said: “Honestly, I think it was just the start. Got off to a good start. Anytime you’re 2-under through 3, it’s a good start. So felt good. Kind of just piggybacked off that momentum and very happy the way I played. Drove the ball really nicely. Left it in some good spots. Even missed quite a few putts. I think I missed a short one on 6, 8, 9, 10, so they were all kind of inside ten feet. But could have been really low but I’ll take it, 7′s pretty good.”
He doesn’t think he has any particular advantage moving forward.
“I don’t think my score really gives me much of an advantage,” he said. “I think maybe my tee time with the weather coming up, I think I might be able to squeak out a few more holes than everybody else before it starts dumping. I would say that’s probably the biggest advantage I’ve got going for me right now.”
Is he worried about the rain that’s in the forecast?
“I don’t think anything of it,” he said. “I really don’t. I just take it – I know it’s so cliché, but I just take it one shot at a time.”
5:50 p.m.: Rahm is confident going into Round 2
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Jon Rahm from Spain is tied with 65 at the top of the leader board with Viktor Hovland after Round 1 of the Masters.
After he finished the round Thursday, he spoke with reporters.
He’s confident going into the second round Friday.
“I’ve played really well this year, right? Maybe not the last few tournaments, but I’m feeling confident, obviously. Hopefully I can keep it going,” he said. “I know it’s the first day and there’s a long way to go and a lot of great players have had a great front nine. I’m looking down so I can -- it’s a little fancy here, I can see my score, I can see everything.”
He admitted there’s a long way to go.
“I’m mostly super happy with what I’ve done today,” he said.
“I’m really happy I started the way I did and gave myself a solid start to the week.”
5:45 p.m.: More reflections on first day of competition
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Some of the golfers to finish the first round are sharing their thoughts on how they did. Among them:
Bernhard Langer from Germany, who’s making his 40th Masters appearance, finished with a 75, saying: “today was tough day. I didn’t make one birdie. Even though I played pretty decent. Hit a lot of quality shots. But hit two or three loose shots that cost me a bogey every time. And I didn’t putt well. I didn’t make any putts to make a couple of birdies and get my score back. So I’m 3-over and that’s not a dream score for me. So I have to do better tomorrow.”
Ben Carr, a college student from the United States, finished with a 75, saying: “I learned a lot. I learned that I’m a good enough ball striker to hit a decent amount of greens and have some looks. But my speed wasn’t very good on the greens. I never really got comfortable on the green. That’s the goal for tomorrow is to hopefully roll in a few more putts. I’d love to have a chance coming down the stretch to make the cut.”
5:10 p.m.: Norwegian’s fashion statement is catching some eyes
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Viktor Hovkland is tied for first on the Masters leader board, but his fashion is getting attention as well as his game.
He wore a bright golf shirt Thursday that featured a red, green, white and black illustration.
In a short interview session after he finished Thursday, his shirt drew comments from two reporters.
“Nice shirt – blended well with the azaleas out there on the course,” one reporter said before asking a question.
Later in the interview session, a reporter said: “I have to ask about your shirt. It kind of took off on social media. Talk about your choice in shirt, and whose idea was it?”
His answer: “I had nothing to do with it. I just wear what they tell me to wear. No, I mean, it’s definitely a little bit out there, but I think I’d rather take these than the pink pants I had last year. So we’re making progress.”
Fashion seems to be getting some attention this year at the Masters. The green jackets awarded to Masters winners have gotten attention at two other news conferences this week.
5:02 p.m.: Hovland is off to a good start ahead of wet weather
AUGUSTA, Ga. - After the first round of the 2023 Masters Tournament, Victor Hovland from Norway is tied at the top of the leader board with Jon Rahm, of Spain.
Hovland had five birdies and an eagle, finishing with a 7-under par 65 on Thursday.
“Got off to a nice start, obviously making eagle on No. 2 and just kept hitting great shots on the front nine and made some putts, and before I knew it, somehow I was 6-under through 11, and yeah, just kind of coast in to 65. So that was awesome,” he said in a quick interview session.
He agrees that such a good start could help if there’s bad weather, as expected, in the next few days.
“Obviously we don’t know how bad it’s going to get, but I tend to think that it’s easier to make up some ground on the easier days,” he said. “So if you start with a really low round and it gets very difficult, it’s kind of easier to protect the score a little bit compared to if you’re five, six, seven shots back, it’s really difficult to make up that much ground if this place is playing very difficult. So obviously getting off to a nice start is key this week.”
4:39 p.m: More players reflect on their first round
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Some of the golfers to finish the first round are sharing their thoughts on how they did. Among them:
Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa, who’s making his 14th Masters appearance, finished with a 74, saying: “Not a good start. I changed putters this week and got out on the first hole and -- I always say, when changing a club, especially a putter that’s got to do with feel, you feel it when you feel a bit of adrenaline, you know? And I got on the 1st, and I was like, wow, this thing’s heavy.”
Aldrich Potgieter, of South Africa, who won the 2022 Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes in England, finished with a 77, saying: “Got off to a slow start. Made a birdie on 2, which was nice. Iron play wasn’t my best today. I just kept hitting in the wrong spots all day, but we’ll look at that tomorrow and look at some more pin placements tomorrow and hopefully that can get better.”
Adam Scott, of Australia, who’s making his 22nd Masters appearance, finished with a 68, saying: “I don’t know for a fact, but it’s probably my best ever opening round. So I have to be satisfied with that. But it was ideal conditions, still fairly soft out there with all the humidity and there were going to be low scores. There’s no wind. So it was nice to get started in the right direction.”
Cameron Young, of the United States, who’s making his second Masters appearance, finished with a 67, saying: “I think I played well. Today was going to be harder hole location-wise, just knowing the weather was going to be nicer today. Yeah, I’m really happy with my start. I think I executed our plan quite well. And anything under par out here is always good.”
Shane Lowry, of Ireland, who’s making his eighth Masters appearance, finished with a 68, saying: “It’s not over yet. We got a long way to go. So, yeah, I’ve, yeah, I prepared really hard and really well for this week and it’s satisfying to get off to a good start. But we all know how long there is to go in this tournament. But, yeah, I did prepare probably for -- I came here three times in the last three weeks, four weeks, played a lot of golf here. So it’s just a place I feel comfortable at now. But, yeah, I did prepare pretty well for this.”
Thomas Pieters, of Belgium, who’s making his fourth Masters appearance, finished with a 74, saying: “I just didn’t get anything out of my round. I three-putted three times, which I just can’t do. That was really the key. I missed a bunch of makable putts. Yeah, not very happy.”
Sahith Theegala, of the United States, who’s making his first Masters appearance, finished with a 73, saying: “I played well. Like I hit the ball well. I just had a bad five-hole stretch. I made five 5s in a row 7 through 11 where I didn’t do that badly, I just like kept not -- I had up-and-down chances, but I kept chipping it to like 12 feet and not exactly the 12-footers that you want. I might have hit it in a new place on 7. I had 62 yards for my third shot from over the green.”
Adam Svensson, of Canada, who’s making his first Masters appearance, finished with a 75, saying: “I wasn’t that nervous, but I was just more excited, I would say. I wasn’t like shaking or anything. It was just more excitement. I was super excited. I was just a little quick with my swing. I was just having a lot of fun. Yeah, just got a little ahead of myself there.”
Sergio Garcia, of Spain, who’d making his 24th Masters appearance, finished with a 74, saying: “Obviously started nicely, but I don’t know, I hit some good tee shots on the front nine. I hit a couple not so great iron shots. I hit a couple really good iron shots. I don’t know. Battling mentally a little bit. I was trying everything I could to do the best I could, and unfortunately the wheels started coming off a bit on the back nine.”
Larry Mize, of the United States, who’s making his 40th and final Masters appearance, finished with a 79, saying: “a little weak on the pitch on No. 1, but yeah, first four holes were good. Five is just a tough hole for me. Let’s face it. Then I did OK on the next few, would like to have a better chance for birdie on 8 than I did. Then the back, there’s a reason this is my last Masters. 10 and 11 is a tough stretch for me. I hit a poor putt -- first putt was poor at 12 to make bogey there, which was disappointing. Then not a very good third shot into 13 because obviously I’ve got to take advantage of holes like that.”
Min Woo Lee, of Australia, who’s making his second Masters appearance, finished with a 75, saying: “It’s obviously tough out there. It’s one of the toughest rounds I’ve played. I haven’t -- I wasn’t familiar with some of these pins because there weren’t any like that last year. So it was a bit new to me and, yeah, it was a bit of good and bad.”
4:08 p.m.: Finishers discuss how Round 1 went for them
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Some of the golfers to finish the first round are sharing their thoughts on how they did. Among them:
Abraham Ancer, of Mexico, who’s making his fourth Masters appearance, finished with Ia 72, saying: “I had to stay patient. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well and not really getting anything out of it. Put myself in three tough spots there for those three bogeys and couldn’t manage to save par. But stayed patient. If you lose your patience going into Amen Corner, you can definitely lose any chance to be playing on the weekend if you do that. So I stayed calm, hit the ball good, hit some good shots from the fairway, and made some birdies that I really, really needed.”
Xander Schauffele, of the United States, who’s making his sixth Masters appearance, finished with a 68, saying: “Felt like I was in control of the golf ball, moving it both ways. And, yeah, it’s great when someone in your group shoots 7-under. You want it to be you every time, but he was the horse, so we’re chasing.”
Kurt Kitayama, of the United State, who’s making his first Masters appearance, finished with a 75, saying: “Just struggled. It feels tough. I didn’t seem to get comfortable off the tees. Just made a bunch of bogeys today. Seems like it’s easy to do. I don’t know, it was just a tough day.”
Seamus Power, of Ireland, who’s making his second Masters appearance, finished with a 73, saying: “It was a bit of a struggle all day, but obviously kind of caught up with me there on the last two. But besides that it was some good stuff. But I didn’t drive it well all day and just kind of made some mistakes. That’s about it.”
Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira, of Argentina, who’s making his first Masters appearance, finished with a 76, saying: “I felt very good out there honestly. I just need to hit the ball well. So I put myself in positions where, if you are on the bad spots out there, you’re going to struggle, and that’s what I did. I didn’t put myself in good places.”
Patrick Reed, of the United States, who’s making his 10th Masters appearance, finished with a 72, saying: “It was just kind of one of those frustrating days. I hit 12 out of 14 fairways. The only ones I missed were 15, barely to the right, but I was able to get a good layup there, make birdie. A bad tee shot on the last.”
3:45 p.m.: Tiger reflects on first round
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods gave a brief interview after finishing Round 1 with 74 in his 25th Masters appearance. He finished with a 74, two below par.
Here’s what he said:
Q. Tiger, with the putting, how much of it is just not having competitive reps under your belt?
TIGER WOODS: I didn’t have very good speed early. I had two three-putts, and consequently I’m a couple over par. I didn’t hit my irons close enough today. I didn’t give myself very good looks. Need to do a better job of that going forward to hopefully get myself back in this tournament.
Q. Leg feels good? How does the leg feel?
TIGER WOODS: Sore.
Q. Can you explain what you felt that last approach by the bunker?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I was trying to hook it more than that and trying to put it in the left gallery or left bunker and give myself an angle. I didn’t do that. Then again, try not to hosel rocket over to the right either. That hosel was sitting there right next to that golf ball.
Q. I meant the hopping in the bunker. It looked awkward.
TIGER WOODS: It’s on my left leg. I’m good. Hop on the left leg is fine. If I did it on the other one, not so fine.
Q. How would you grade your round today, different parts of your game?
TIGER WOODS: I felt like I drove it good. I just didn’t do the job I need to do to get the ball close. Today was the opportune time to get the ball -- get the round under par, and I didn’t do that today. Most of the guys are going low today. This was the day to do it. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be a little bit better, a little bit sharper, and kind of inch my way through it. This is going to be an interesting finish to the tournament with the weather coming in. If I can just kind of hang in there, maybe kind of inch my way back, hopefully it will be positive towards the end.
Q. Can you talk us through 3?
TIGER WOODS: Second shot on 3? I hit it kind of high on the face. It wasn’t -- I was trying to spin it, and it came out kind of hopping and was kind of a tumbler.
Q. What’s 13 like for you now?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I hit good drives. Xander and I both hit good drives. We were down there. He was at 219. I was 218 front. But we weren’t sitting very good in the first cut right there. So it wasn’t really an opportune time to go for it, so we both laid up.
Q. Was that sort of the intention they were looking for to have to make you think about it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, if you hit it up more the left side like Viktor did, Viktor played a cut there, and he got up the left side. Yeah, there’s less options off the tee. There’s no really 3-wood there. You just hit driver and maybe turn it just a touch. Or you can hit what Viktor did. You can cut it off that tee, and you have room. He hit some kind of 4-, 5-iron to the green.
Q. Are there other shots where the pain is more focused, or is it something that’s constant?
TIGER WOODS: It’s constant.
Q. Tiger, can you talk us through 11?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, 11, the wind laid down just a little bit, and I hit a good 5-iron in there right where I was looking. We were trying to keep it short of that bunker so we have an angle. The wind just laid down. I missed a spot by two yards, and it careened off the edge of the slope and gave myself basically no shot.
2:52 p.m.: Tiger has 2 birdies in a row
2:37 p.m.: How the early finishers rate their performance
AUGUSTA, Ga.- Some of the first groups of golfers to finish the first round are sharing their thoughts on how they did. Among them:
Fred Couples, making his 38th Masters appearance, finished with a 71, saying: “It was a good day. It was a fun day. I actually played really, really well, even the front. Everyone bogeys 5. I bogeyed it seven straight years now every round. And then No. 9, for some reason I cannot hit the fairway and made bogey there. Then the back nine was really, really good golf.”
Sandy Lyle, making his 42nd Masters appearance, finished with an 81, saying: “Very substandard golf. I was very disappointed. I thought some of my iron shots on the range would be perfect for some of the holes.”
Matthew McClean, of Northern Ireland, finished with a 77, saying: “I probably deep down would have been happy with the start I had. I was flying there. But to be too disappointed with 5-over in the first round is probably the sign of I actually played pretty well. So, yeah, it was tough to finish it out there, but yeah, I played much better than that and pretty happy with how I played.”
Scott Stallings, making his third Masters appearance, finished with a 71, saying: “I didn’t try to do too much. I gave myself opportunities with the way I drove the ball today. Just basically every time I had a wedge, it was kind of super in between to kind of like an awkward pin. It was never just to be able to hit it right down the flag.”
Harrison Crowe, of Australia, finished with a 75, saying: “It was quite hot out there, so it was quite easy to get a little flustered and get a little bit impatient. Today the pins out there were tough. I felt. It was tough to get the ball close, so you either have to hole a couple of long ones, which I felt like I putted pretty well and still had two 3-putts.”
Kevin Kisner, the Aiken native who’s making his eighth Masters appearance, finished with a 72, saying: “It was an up-and-down day. It was the most benign I’ve ever seen the golf course. Greens were soft and not overly fast. I felt like the scores are going to be lower than they are, and there’s still plenty of time for that. Everyone kind of eases into Augusta, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s still hard as hell, but it seemed easier than it has been.”
Louis Oosthuizen, who’s making his 15th Masters appearance, finished with a 76, saying he was “shaky really. Struggling off the tee badly. Only place I’m comfortable is on the greens really. Going through quite a bit of things in my game and not comfortable on the golf ball. Not an ideal place to be playing a major, but I’m just happy being here.”
Adrian Meronk, of Poland, making his first Masters, finished with a 73, saying: “It was very, very up and down today, played really good, made some mistakes. At the end of the day, a little bit disappointed with the finish, but still a good round. First time here, so, yeah, it was fun.”
1:57 p.m.: Weir zips through course and finishes with 72
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Mike Weir was the first to finish the first round of the Masters.
The Canadian finished with a 72, and he’s happy with that.
“I played really well – 72′s a nice score. That could have been a really, really good score today. I missed three short putts on the back nine today,” he said. “But outside of that, I played really well. I drove it well. I made some nice putts to get the round going early, maybe a 6- or 7-footer on number 1 for par and another one on 3. So that was some nice momentum early, and then I just played really well the rest of the day.”
He may have finished so quickly because his partner, Kevin Na, withdrew due to illness after his first nine holes.
Na had told Weir earlier he wasn’t feeling well, then on the 10th tee, Weir said, “I think he just said, ‘I’m done,’ and handed me his card and away he went.”
1:44 p.m.: Zalatoris withdraws due to injury
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Due to injury, Will Zalatoris has officially withdrawn from the Masters Tournament prior to starting his first round.
Zalatoris, the No. 8 ranked player in the world, has struggled with back issues in the past.
He was the runner-up at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open last year went on to win his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. However, the following week at the BMW Championship, he suffered two herniated disks during a tee shot, ending his season.
The 26-year-old Zalatoris finished tied for sixth last year at the Masters, seven shots behind champion Scottie Scheffler.
12:59 p.m.: Norway’s Hovland is early leader at Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga, - Norway’s Viktor Hovland has raced to the early first round lead at the Masters at 5-under par through nine holes on an 81-degree day at Augusta National.
Hovland is one of 16 golfers under par with the afternoon groups set to tee off.
He has seven career wins but has never won at major, eagled the par-5 second hole to gain some early momentum and followed with birdies at Nos. 6, 8 and 9 to record a 31 on the front nine.
Hovland is playing in the same threesome with Tiger Woods, who is seven shots back at 2 over.
Spain’s Jon Rahm is in second, having finished the first nine holes.
12:58 p.m.: Photo gallery | Great shots from Round 1
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Here’s a look at some of the action from the course today in Round 1:
12:26 p.m.: Tiger having a tough day so far
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Tiger Woods is off to a rough start at the Masters.
The 47-year-old five-time champion is 2 over after five holes following bogeys at the par 4 third and fifth holes. Woods has fallen five shots behind leader Cameron Young, who leads the field at 3 under.
Woods is competing in his 25th Masters.
MORE FROM NEWS 12:
- Woods and his limp are back at Masters, but for how much longer?
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- Tiger continues to draw big roars with a touch of nostalgia
He opened with a par on the first in front of a huge crowd, many stacked rows deep standing on tippy toes hoping to catch a glimpse of the generational star.
Even before Woods took to the course, fans flocked to see him on the practice tee.
The five-time champion admitted earlier this week he’s not sure how many more Masters tournaments he has in him.
Woods, who walks with noticeable limp at times, is still recovering from a car crash in suburban Los Angeles where he crushed bones so badly in his legs that doctors contemplated amputation.
Woods has only played in one PGA Tour event this year, the Genesis Invitational, where he finished tied for 45th place at 1-under 283. He last won the Masters in 2019.
12:16 p.m.: Tiger’s tale about the 16th green
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Players often notice subtle changes to Augusta National, real or imagined, that are not recorded as official updates. One of them might be the 16th green. Masters records indicate the last change was in 1973 when the left section of the pond was filled.
Not according to Tiger Woods.
He says the green has been redesigned since his famous chip-in in 2005 on the par 3. The topic came up this week when he was asked if he had ever tried to replicate the shot, in which he pitched it up the slope and watched it make a U-turn, trickle down, pause on the edge of the cup and drop for birdie.
“Yeah, the green has changed. There is a new back, deeper hole location there that they tried to fit,” Woods said. “But my chip there in 2005 is not the same. The green is not the same as it was then.”
Woods doesn’t pay attention to the chip, anyway. He says when he sees a replay of that iconic shot, he tries to figure out how he got there in the first place.
“I did not draw a bad lie on that tee shot to hit it that bad,” he said. “If you want to go back and see the chip, OK, that’s cool. But to hit an 8-iron that bad and that far off line, and I had a perfect lie, was not very good.”
11:43 a.m.: A fond farewell to 2 Masters champions
AUGUSTA, Ga. - We reported earlier this week that Larry Mize and Sandy Lyle announced this will be their last Masters.
We’ll miss them.
Mize is a local – the first Augusta native to win the Masters back in 1987 when he holed a 140-foot chip from right of the 11th green in the second hole of a playoff to beat Greg Norman in 1987.
The next year, Lyle hit 7-iron from the fairway bunker on the 18th hole to 10 feet and made the birdie putt to win.
“As they were in 1988, when Larry presented the green jacket to Sandy, they are connected again this week,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said. “We commend them for their fine play over four decades and for representing the Masters so well. Rest assured, their victories will forever be remembered.”
This is Mize’s 40th consecutive Masters, while Lyle was part of the “Big Five” from Europe who once seemingly ruled the Masters. Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo combined to win nine times between 1980 and 1996, including a stretch of seven wins in 12 years.
The news was shared at the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night.
“Larry got a little emotional,” two-time champion Jose Maria Olazabal said. “He had a hard time trying to speak. Actually, he didn’t. It was a very emotional dinner. So it was nice.”
11:35 a.m.: Players continue to keep their eyes on the skies
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Patrons and news crews like us aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the weather forecast.
While the opening round today is warm, with highs in the mid-80s, rain is expected to move through here on Friday. With it comes a cold front, dropping highs into the 50s, and there is a near-100% chance of rain this weekend.
“I think it will be a long week,” Patrick Cantlay said. “Usually when there’s weather, the rounds drag on and it looks like there may be some delays as well. I imagine the golf course will play particularly long this year.”
That also doesn’t bode well for players such as Tiger Woods, whose bodies get a bit creaky when temperatures take a dive.
Asked whether he’d seen the forecast, Woods replied: “Oh, yeah. I’ve seen it.”
11:31 a.m.: A lot of talk about rolling back the ball
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Besides the 13th hole and the weather, golf ball modifications are big topic this week at Augusta National.
Chairman Fred Ridley mentioned it during his news conference Tuesday, and the honorary starters talked about it during their news conference this morning.
There’s a USGA and R&A proposal for a modified local rule rolling back the golf ball.
It would mean tournaments could choose to require a different ball, and use it to curtail distance by about 15 yards, and it’s clear the U.S. Open and British Open will go along. It’s not a done deal, though, as the comment period goes through the Masters.
“Our position has always been that we support the governing bodies,” Ridley said of the Masters. “I think, in a general sense, we do support the proposal, but because it’s in the middle of a comment period, it could change. ... So we will look at the final product and make a decision.
“We believe distance needs to be addressed,” Ridley added. “I think the natural conclusion is, yes, we will be supportive.”
11:22 a.m.: LIV golfers generating some betting in Vegas
AUGUSTA, Ga. - This is something you wouldn’t expect because LIV Golf doesn’t attract as much betting as PGA ...
But in Las Vegas, Westgate SuperBook golf oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said his company’s properties have taken quite a bit of money on whether one of the LIV golfers will win this weekend.
And “interestingly enough, we’ve been writing a decent amount of handle already on the best finish out of the LIV golfers,” Sherman said.
10:24 a.m.: Kevin Na exits Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Less than two and a half hours into the Masters, Kevin Na has withdrawn.
The LIV golfer had teed off at 8 a.m.
Augusta National said he withdrew due to illness after completing nine holes.
9:59 a.m.: Things to keep an eye on as Masters gets started
AUGUSTA, Ga. - From the renegade LIV tour to Scottie Scheffler’s bid for a second straight green jacket to an elongated 13th hole, there’s a lot to talk about as the Masters Tournament gets underway today at Augusta National Golf Club.
Here are some things to watch for over the next four days:
- The Big Three: Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and perhaps Jon Rahm
- The remade 13th hole, nicknamed “Azalea.”
- Tiger Woods
- The unpredictable weather
9:31 a.m.: How Tom Watson injured his shoulder
AUGUSTA, Ga. - If you watched the Masters’ honorary starter ceremony, you may have noticed Tom Watson’s quip that he didn’t use his normal hand to tee up with.
“You don’t ride go-karts at my age,” he joked. Then he added, “Yeah, you do,” to the crowd’s delight.
In case you missed it, the always humbled and good-humored Watson told News 12′s Meredith Anderson in an interview this week that he’d injured his shoulder in a go-kart accident.
He built a go-kart track for his grandkids on his farm, “and just being me, I was trying to go as fast as I possibly could,” he said. “I went around a corner and turned it over and stick my arm out and ruined my shoulder, and now it’s got a prosthesis in there.”
9:05 a.m.: The field of competitors, by the numbers
AUGUSTA, Ga. - There are 104 invitees and a starting field of 88 players for the 2023 Masters Tournament.
There are 16 first-time players, consisting of seven amateurs and nine professionals.
On the first two days of play, each amateur is paired in a group with a Masters champion.
In addition, 22 honorary non-participating Invitees are expected in attendance.
9:02 a.m.: Things to know about the first hole
8:55: More from the honorary starters
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The honorary starters’ news conference wrapped up around 8:30 a.m.
Here are some of the highlights:
The players discussed at length the lengthening of the 13th hole, and whether there should be changes in balls to prevent them from traveling as far, as is being considered.
MORE FROM NEWS 12:
- Honorary start is ‘icing on the cake’ for golf great Tom Watson
- A one-on-one interview with golfing great Tom Watson
Watson noted that to lengthen the 13th hole, “Augusta National had to go in and buy the land to extend that hole; they spent a lot of money on that land. .. Now how’s that hole going to play?” He said, “I think it’s a very good thing” to create a ball that doesn’t go as far. Watson said he thinks it’s best to have a ball that’s for pros and another ball for amateurs.
Nicklaus noted that last time the ball size was changed, the old ball was grandfathered in for eight to 10 to 10 years. He said he thinks it’s “fine” to create a ball that’s just for pros and then, “Let’s see what happens.” He noted that the farther the ball goes, the longer it takes to play the game, and it’s important to keep the game length reasonable.
They were asked about the biggest changes they’ve seen at Augusta National through the years.
Watson says it’s the differences in the green.
Player said technology has driven a lot of changes, from lawn mowers to the vehicle you use to get to the course.
“The greens today are like a snooker table,” he said. “You can’t compare different eras, it’s a completely different game.”
The players were asked about stories from past Champions Dinners.
Nicklaus said he was impressed last year with Player making a speech last year in Japanese and the previous year’s winner, Hideki Matsuyama, giving a speech in English.
Nicklaus noted that despite much talk about potential tension between LIV and PGA players, there was “zero” tension at this year’s Champions Dinner. He called it “the most cordial experience” ever.
Player recalled a Champions Dinner when he had a chance to interact with Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones, complaining that he could never seem to birdie the third hole.
Jones replied: “You’re not supposed to birdie the third hole.”
8:40 a.m.: The allure of the green jacket
AUGUSTA, Ga. - A lot of times when we talk about the green jacket, we’re speaking figuratively of what the green jacket stands for.
Twice now this week, a reporter has asked questions at news conferences about the actual, physical green jacket in literal and very specific terms. Things like: How well does the jacket fit? Is it tailored? What are the measurements?
The first time was Wednesday during the chairman’s news conference, and the second was Thursday during the honorary starters’ news conference.
The reporter asked the honorary starters: “The green jacket specifically, could each of you share a story about your green jacket, the actual jacket.”
And they told their stories.
8:30 a.m.: Nicklaus fields a political question
AUGUSTA, Ga. - A reporter asked Jack Nicklaus if he’d support Donald Trump for president as he did in the last election.
Nicklaus said: “We’ll have to see what happens ... I’ve always supported what I felt was the best candidate,” and he felt that Trump was the best candidate in the 2020 election. Nicklaus said he’s voted for Democrats and Republicans, and “I try to pick the person who’ll do the best job for country.”
8:13 a.m.: Honorary starters speak at news conference
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The three honorary starters are fielding questions at a news conference right now.
They were asked about some of the life lessons they’ve learned at Augusta.
Gary Player said he’s learned “gratitude that we have the opportunity to play in a tournament of this stature.”
Jack Nicklaus said he learned how to putt, after discovering that was one of his deficiencies.
Tom Watson said: “How lucky I am to be able to play a game like this ... to be able to play with and try to compete with my heroes ... the ability to play a game for a living. You all work for a living; I get to play a game for a living.”
8 a.m.: First players tee off
AUGUSTA, Ga. - LIV golfer Kevin Na and 2003 champion Mike Weir launched their drives down the first fairway at Augusta National, signaling the official start of the 87th Masters.
Na is one of 18 players from the polarizing Saudi Arabia-backed golf league participating in the event, which is almost certain to make this a tournament unlike any other.
7:56 a.m.: A look at tee times
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Here’s a look at some of the key tee times in the Masters:
- 2022 champion Scottike Scheffler tees off at 1:36 p.m.
- Phil Mickelson is teeing off at 12:24 p.m. in the second afternoon group. He’s back after missing last year’s tournament.
- Rory McIlroy’s quest to complete the career grand slam will begin at 1:48.
- Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are together this year at 10:42 a.m. Rahm is one of the favorites to put on the green jacket this year.
- At 10:54 a.m. are Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama and Cameron Smith. Both have had a track record of putting on a show here in Augusta over the years.
- Masters score record holder Dustin Johnson will be teeing off at 1:12 p.m.
- Matthew Fitzpatrick, Colin Morikawa and Will Zalatoris will be walking Augusta National together at 1:24 p.m.
- Then the final group of the day at 2 p.m. will keep you on the edge of your seat: Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood and Tony Finau.
7:47 a.m.: The Masters Tournament has begun
AUGUSTA, Ga. - “The 2023 Masters is now officially underway. Enjoy the tournament,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley declares after Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson drive the first balls as honorary starters.
MORE FROM NEWS 12:
- Honorary start is ‘icing on the cake’ for golf great Tom Watson
- A one-on-one interview with golfing great Tom Watson
Player was greeted on the tee with a smile by Masters Chairman Fred Ridley a week after the tournament’s first international champion told the Times of London he did not feel welcome at Augusta National. Player said he had to “beg a member to play with us” when he wanted to play a round with family members,” and that “if it wasn’t for the players, it would be just another golf course in Georgia.”
Nicklaus, who walked with a noticeable limp, joked with the crowd before bending over to put his tee in the ground saying. “that’s the hardest part.”
Watson, with his shoulder still aching from a go-kart accident, joked that he didn’t use his normal hand to tee up with.
“You don’t ride go-karts at my age,” he joked. Then he added, “Yeah, you do.”
He’s told News 12 earlier about suffering shoulder injuries after riding a go-kart of a track he’d built for his grandkids on his farm.
7:35 a.m.: 3 giants of golf serve as honorary starters
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson will serve as the honorary starters this morning for the 2023 Masters Tournament.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7:40 a.m. on the No. 1 tee.
Nicklaus, Player and Watson – who were also last year’s honorary starters – combined are the winners of 11 Masters Tournaments and have made 140 tournament appearances.
The custom of having honorary starters began in 1963 with Jock Hutchison (1963-1973) and Fred McLeod (1963-1976) performing the duties. Byron Nelson (1981-2001, non-consecutive), Gene Sarazen (1981-1999), Ken Venturi (1983), Sam Snead (1984-2002), Arnold Palmer (2007-2016), Nicklaus (2010-present), Player (2012-present), Lee Elder (2021) and Watson (2022-present) have continued the tradition.
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