33 years on from his Masters triumph. He misses the fairway but is just short of the bunker, with 175 to the pin. Also in his threeball are Jones and Frittelli, who have driven to differing sides of the fairway.
Frittelli’s approach from the right ends short of the green, leaving him and up-and-down to make par. Jones plays to the centre of the green, leaving a 15ft putt for birdie. Lyle makes the green in two, too, but has a 30ft putt for his three.
Michael Thompson and Hudson Swafford in the first group
Swafford hits his drive 302 yards on the left of the fairway, just in the first cut of rough. Thompson’s ends up with 150 or so to the pin but on the other side of the fairway – or is it in the bunker? Yes, it is.
He plays out from there right and back of the green with 22 yards left to the pin. Could struggle to make par.
Swafford, on the left, fires his approach shot across the greenside bunker and to the middle of the green, 30ft away from the hole.
Good afternoon, and welcome to our coverage of the first day’s play from the 2021 Masters at Augusta National, Georgia. If it seems like the last tournament here was only a few months ago, then that is because it was – it was postponed and eventually took place in November, with Dustin Johnson the eventual winner. He is again favourite to take the Green Jacket, but if he does not, then on whose shoulders might he be placing it on Sunday evening?
Alongside him are a host of the usual suspects: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and, of course, the big hitting Bryson DeChambeau.
Our Golf Correspondent, James Corrigan, says that whoever triumphs this week will have conquered the “genuine Augusta”, different to the conditions that the field faced in mid-November, 2020.
As the governing bodies prepare to rein in the boom squad — the likes of Bryson DeChambeau who, with their 350-yard plus carries, are threatening to reduce Amen Corner to a few “Hail Marys” — Mother Nature has stepped up to the plate to ensure it will rather more intriguing than the drive, wedge and putt that typified Johnson’s glory in November.
No disrespect to the world No 1 — and it is eminently possible that he becomes just the fourth in history after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Sir Nick Faldo to defend their Masters title successfully — but whoever prevails on Sunday will have conquered the genuine Augusta.
“The fact that Dustin was 20-under was a combination of his extraordinary play and that at the same time, admittedly, the golf course was soft,” Fred Ridley, the Augusta chairman said. “But that really had nothing to do with the way the course is playing right now. We have had ideal weather and this is the first year probably going back to 2013, when we actually came into the week with the course playing firm and fast, as it is right now. We have it right where we want it.”
Play is about to get under way and we will have rolling updates throughout the first day’s action and, of course, the following three. One of sport’s greatest competitions is back where it belongs.
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