Friday, April 7, 2017

Golf: Jason Day fires a 74 in Masters opening round

Jason Day finished the opening round of the Masters with a 2-over 74 on Thursday, a score he shared with 14 others.

The Australian golfer, whose mother hails from Leyte, fell into some problems early, finishing No. 3 and No. 11 with a bogey and double bogey respectively.

The world No. 3 recovered a bit with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, but stumbled again on the 17th with another bogey.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and 2-time champion Bubba Watson of the US also ended up with a 74.

Day, whose best finish at Augusta National was a tie for 2nd in 2011, was 9 shots behind Charley Hoffman, who shot a 65.

The unheralded Hoffman took a four-shot lead after high winds punished the world's top golfers and favorite Dustin Johnson withdrew injured.

Hoffman, 40, posted a 7-under in conditions described by one former Masters winner as "borderline" unplayable.

He snatched the lead over 2nd-placed fellow American William McGirt on a day of high drama that saw world No. 1 Johnson pull out following a freak accident.

Hoffman's 4-stroke lead is the largest at the Masters after 18 holes since 1955, when Jack Burke led by the same margin over Julius Boros.

In the difficult conditions, Hoffman said he set out to shoot for par but "got a little bit lucky."

"For lack of any better words, it was a dream," he said.

England's Lee Westwood, 43, still looking for a major title after 75 attempts, was in 3rd place a shot further back on 70 on a day when top contenders suffered in difficult conditions on the 7,435-yard Augusta National course.

Johnson agonized for 24 hours before pulling out after a serious fall on the eve of the tournament left him in pain from a lower back injury.