The Masters is truly “a tradition unlike any other.”
You never know what to expect from the season’s first major. And yet, you’re never surprised when something special unfolds at Augusta National. This course has been home to some of the most miraculous plays in golf history, and the 2015 tournament is already off to an incredible start. Thursday’s round featured great weather and almost perfect playing conditions. The course was kind to the players and soft to the shot. And boy, were viewers treated to some fantastic golf.
There are a lot of recognizable names near the top of the leaderboard, but one youngster seems to be running away from the field. We’re only 18 holes into this heralded tournament, but there’s already plenty to discuss — everything from Tiger Wood’s comeback, to Rory McIlroy’s quest for the Grand Slam, to whether or not Bubba Watson can regain his form. If the Second Round can match the heroics of the first day, then we could be in for a classic.
With Friday’s round officially underway, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the three top performances from Thursday’s First Round at the Masters.
3. Tom Watson turns back the clock
Tom Watson may be 65 years old, but he certainly didn’t play like it. By shooting a 1-under 71, the former Ryder Cup captain became the oldest player in Masters history to post an under-par round. Watson hasn’t shot this well at Augusta since the opening round of the 2010 Masters, when he put up a 5-under 67. Who knows if his age will finally catch up to him, but if Watson can continue to play at this level, then he has the chance to become the oldest player to make the 36-hole cut at this particular major. After the United States’ Ryder Cup debacle in 2014, it’d be nice to see Watson get a “win.”
2. Ernie Els starts off strong
Playing in his 21st Masters, Ernie Els got off to the best start he’s ever had at Augusta. Els’s 5-under 67 put him in a four-way tie heading into the second day of the event. Despite currently being ranked 84th in the world, the South African already has four major titles under his belt. However, the green jacket has always eluded the 45-year-old. His last stint near the top of the leaderboard was all the way back in 2004, when he finished runner-up to eventual winner Phil Mickelson. This is the best opening-round start that Els has ever had at the Masters. Just three strokes back heading into day 2, we’ll soon find out if he has what it takes to keep the momentum going.
1. Jordan Spieth plays a perfect round
The story of the day was 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and his near perfect opening round. He shot an an 8-under 64, which left him one stroke off the course record at Augusta. On the day, Spieth managed to hit 15 of 18 and only needed 25 putts in the round. That’s just downright impressive. He also had no interest getting caught up in the hype of his spectacular display. Said Spieth, “It’s Round 1. There’s 54 holes left and anything happens in a major.” Regardless of how it all plays out, the World No. 4 became the youngest player in history to ever take the Masters lead after 18 holes. If Spieth can maintain his composure and keep up his current level of play, he’ll be getting fitted for his first green jacket.