Sport Golf

Sunday 25 February 2018

Tiger lurks as Leishman takes early lead at Augusta

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the second hole today
Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the second hole today

Mark Lamport-Stokes

ENGLAND'S David Lynn, who described simply qualifying for the Masters as a dream come true, might be forgiven for thinking he had yet to wake up after enjoying a brilliant tournament debut today.

Playing only the third major of his career after securing his place by finishing second at the US PGA Championship last year, Lynn carded a four-under-par 68 in the first round at Augusta National.


The 39-year-old from Stoke, who has just one win in almost 400 European Tour events, carded six birdies and two bogeys to set the early clubhouse target, and although he was overhauled by Australian Marc Leishman's 66, the world number 53 finished ahead of a host of more high-profile names.


Compatriots Justin Rose and Lee Westwood both shot 70, 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel a 71 and defending champion Bubba Watson 75, while Ian Poulter fared even worse with a 76.


But world number one Tiger Woods, seeking a fifth Green Jacket and fourth win of the year, was ominously poised on two under after an uneventful round of three birdies and one bogey, while Rory McIlroy was one under after seven.


Sergio Garcia, who 12 months ago was complaining bitterly that he was not good enough to win a major, was five under after 10, with Spanish compatriot Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano three under with four to play.


Out in the third group at 8:22am local time, Lynn went to the turn in 33 and was two clear of the field when he birdied the 15th, but bogeyed the 17th and needed to hole from 12ft for par on the 18th.


"I was on the ninth and my caddie said 'You're leading the Masters.' He just looked at me and smiled," a delighted Lynn said.


"I said 'I'd rather be leading it Sunday afternoon' but it's obviously not a bad thing to see your name up there and something you could always look back on.


"But there's a lot to be done for the rest of the week and hopefully I can keep my name up there.


"It's taken me a golfing lifetime to get here. You do feel like you know the place because you see it that many times on TV. It's fantastic.


"When I am on my game I know I can compete at this level and Kiawah Island (for the US PGA) confirmed it to me. It gave me a bit of extra belief.


"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm going to be there Sunday night, but deep down I know that I've got performances in me that could put me there."


Westwood has already been there with finishes of second, 11th and third in the last three years, but had to recover from a double-bogey six on the first today.


"It was a good start, well, not literally, but it's a good first round," the 39-year-old said, who had responded angrily to suggestions from Colin Montgomerie that time was running out for him to win a major.


"It wasn't the ideal start, but I've started majors with a double bogey before - the US Open last year sprang to mind - and I fought my way back to have a chance.


"So there was no panic, really. It was nice to make birdie at the second and get one back there early. You could stand on the second tee and say, well everybody in the field is going to make a double bogey, I just got mine out of the way early."


Rose was three shots better off than Westwood over the opening two holes after two birdies, but was unable to capitalise on such a bright start.


"I've led three times after the first round, which has come to no avail," Rose said.


"You can never win it on day one, you can only lose it. I didn't really make anything until the 18th, when I knocked in a nice 15-foot putt for par, which makes lunch taste good, really."

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