Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Ian Poulter takes a harrowing path to Augusta National

World No 1 Dustin Johnson meanwhile will play alongside Justin Rose and Rafa Cabrera-Bello World No 1 Dustin Johnson meanwhile will play alongside Justin Rose and Rafa Cabrera-Bello
Herman Weaver | 06 April, 2018, 18:55

Among the men breathing down Spieth's neck is Rory McIlroy, who produced superb par saves at the 16th and 17th holes to break 70 in the opening round for only the second time in ten attempts.

But practically every single person who has played the game for any appreciable length of time has known what it is like to lose/sink/hit out of bounds five balls in one round. The Ulsterman lies in a tie for fourth alongside Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed, Haotong Li, Charley Hoffman, Adam Hadwin and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

The Lehi resident shot a 4-under-par 68.

"I don't know", Garcia said, trying to find the words in his non-native language.

Woods almost drove the green at the par-4 No. 3, pitched to about 10 feet and made the putt to set off a huge "Tiger Roar".

He toiled at the final hole before a stunning wedge shot limited the damage to a bogey, and a six-under-par 66 was enough for Spieth - the 2015 champion - to lead by two shots.

"The ball just wouldn't stop, " he said later after carding an 81 that ruins his chances of defending the championship.

Garcia's troubles were a headline-grabber, the Spaniard who won the green jacket in 2017 self-destructing with an astonishing 13 shots at the par-five 15 hole, where he hit his six-iron second shot into the pond in front of the green, then consecutively pumped five more wedges into the water, a lot of them spinning back from the putting surface.

The former world number one also sent galleries scurrying with shots at the 13th and 15th holes and dumped his tee shot at the par-three 12th into Rae's Creek.

He hit a low line drive with his iron that struck a chair an elderly fan was holding, the ball falling straight to ground.

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He struggled on the par-5s, which are normally his bread and butter at Augusta, and that kept him from taking his score into negative numbers.

Finau was cleared to play after receiving an MRI exam on his dislocated left ankle Thursday morning.

Despite Garcia's 13, the 15th hole played as the second easiest hole on the course Thursday, with only six bogeys or worse.

Woods had to throw a bucket of ice water on a question about the best sports comeback ever - anyone remember that Ben Hogan got hit by a bus? - but he couldn't dampen the enthusiasm in this city.

First, remind us of Tiger Woods the great, maybe the greatest. He finished tied for 17th. He chipped out and missed a 20-footer.

Playing partner Marc Leishman was leading the event at 2 under.

"It's so exciting to be at the Masters, so exciting", he said. It was looking like it might be another hole-in-one as it was working its way down the hill.

X-rays were negative. Finau was scheduled for more tests Thursday before teeing off (12:43 p.m.) in the first round at Augusta National. That, of course, is what Garcia used to sound like at the Masters. He dropped to one knee and ended up pushing the joint back into place.

Now, it will be interesting to see how the ankle reacts after walking 18 holes in a round that took more than five hours to complete.

The 82nd Masters has begun. It is expected to be in the high 60s by the afternoon. Coming up to the first tee, the people come out of the clubhouse and the putting green.

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