The world No1, Dustin Johnson, was hampered by a back trauma from falling down stairs on the eve of the Masters and drew out at the 1st tee
As the stricken Dustin Johnson strolled from the 1st tee at Augusta National, thereby making one of the most dramatic deviations in major championship history, the Thursday narrative seemed specify. Only something extraordinary would match the Johnson storyline.
Enter Charley Hoffman. Given brutally tough circumstances, the afternoon 65 as posted by this 40 -year-old from San Diego ranks among the finest opening rounds in 81 stagings of the Masters. It was a performance worthy of a trophy and 10 better than the field average. Hoffman birdied five of the last six holes when marching to the summit of the leaderboard, its own position he comprises by four heading into day two. Only Hoffman and William McGirt, who had a superb 69, could transgress 70.
It would be legitimate to accept the other 93 musicians in this Masters field gleaned inspiration from the vision of “the worlds” No1, a hitherto dominant figure, exiting stage left instants before his tournament were attributed to get under way. Far less predictable after the Johnson theatre was the identity of Hoffman as “the mens” to make hay. He is ranked No52 in “the worlds”, after all; hardly a journeyman professional but holding a pretty average major record which shows one top-1 0 finish in 22 appearances. I feel comfy here, said Hoffman subsequently, with a decent dose of understatement.
English golf successfully played on the law of averages. That nation accounted for a remarkable 11 of the challenger listing; by close of play, five were within seven of the contribute. If that hardly voices remarkable, Hoffmans exploits in taking the largest Thursday advantage since 1955 surely were. Paul Casey, the lowest of that England quintet, shares 12 th. Lee Westwoods 70 signifies he lies third with Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick at one under par and Justin Rose a further shot back.
If Johnsons back issue he tumbled down stairs in an Augusta rental home on Wednesday afternoon was well known, the presumption was the 32 -year-old would participate after he not only took part in a full range session but headed for the commencement of the tee. At that juncture the key seed of doubt came to the fore. Johnson about-turned and headed for the clubhouse, stimulating his scale of frustration abundantly clear when en route.
I was stimulating swingings on the scope but could only run 80%, Johnson said. I could make a good backswing but at impact it was too much. So I dont feel like there was any chance of me competing.
I was doing everything I could to play. I was up the majority of members of last nighttime applying ice, applying hot, applying ice again. I was desperate to get it ready for this morning. I merely cant build my normal swinging because of my lower left back.
I didnt get much sleep but thats not the issue. I want to play. The issue is I merely cant swing.
Im playing the best golf of my career. This is an event I look forward to each year, so to have a freak accident intend I cant play? It merely sucks, it genuinely does.
If it happened on Monday, I dont think we would have any issues but it happened on Wednesday afternoon. It would even have been great if itd happened after this because I have three weeks off.
Someone, somewhere decided this was not to be Johnsons Green Jacket year. The golfing divinities have always operated in mysterious ways.
Anyone trying calm after Wednesdays electric storm was to be sadly disappointed as high winds whipped around Augusta to the extent the venue became more severe by the hour. Towering pine trees arced under the strain of biting gusts, with only sensible pin positions and greens softened by a pre-tournament spate ensuring the course remained playable. Challengers had to hang in for dear life; it soon became clear that an opening round of level par or better represented an outstanding return.
Rory McIlroy duelled back manfully from the position of plus three after eight. s 72 leaves him well placed to challenge, rendering of course Hoffman doesnt preserve his Thursday pace.
Jason Days return to competitive action was marked by a 74. Jordan Spieth lies one stroke behind Day, with a remarkable quadruple-bogey nine at the 15 th the key aberration of the 2015 champs Thursday. Spieth left the course to confirmation of the Johnson scenario. I could see on the board that his epithet was taken down, said Spieth. Certainly it is really unfortunate. As a pal of his and somebody who has played a lot of golf with him, I know this must not be good in order for him not to tee it up. I surely wish him well.
The signs were ominous for Danny Willett as he opened his Lords defense with a double bogey. The YorkshiremanWillett is due credit not only for the incurring of no further damage but actually curtailing it; he signed for a 73.
When I was stood on the 3rd tee if someone had said I would hit 73 I would have ripped their hand off, strolled up the hill, moved inside and had a cup of tea, he said. I opposed back really well, delve my heels in and make some really good golf shots.
Willett was among those to gaze in wonder at Hoffman and rightly so.