Masters Live Blog: Round 1
Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the Masters, bringing you inside information and analysis from Augusta National Golf Club. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at email@example.com.• Par 3 blog 7:00 p.m.: Here it is, folks. Last e-mail of the day, from Jeff in Denver:
- Isn't it about time you wrap up this blog and head over to the writer's pub to throw a few down?
- What do you think the odds are that we see Tiger and Phil hitting ceremonial shots and shooting in the 80's in 30-40 years? Gotta be a better chance for Phil right?
- In his post round interview, Tiger said the only roar he heard all day was "Poulty's eagle." Pet name peace offering?
- Q: Are you ever nervous with it being the first round and all the expectations?
A: Oh, you're always nervous every time you tee it up. If you're not nervous, that means you don't care, so why play? I care about what I shoot and how I play. I take great pride in what I do. So yeah, you're going to be a little nervous, and that's a good thing.
• Trevor Immelman: 290.1 yards. (Rank: 38)
• Brandt Snedeker: 274.0 yards. (Rank: 168)
• Brian Bateman: 282.1 yards. (Rank: 89)
• Ian Poulter: 281.4 yards. (Rank: 94)
• Robert Karlsson: 289.8 yards. (Rank: 41)
• Zach Johnson: 268.4 yards. (Rank: 192)
• Stephen Ames: 273.1 yards. (Rank: 171)
• Jim Furyk: 273.4 yards. (Rank: 169) No real big bangers on the list. There are a few things we can infer from this: 1. The course isn't playing nearly as long as we've been led to believe.
2. A difference of 20 yards or so (maybe a two-club swing) just doesn't matter much to players who are so proficient with their longer irons.
3. Accuracy is more important than distance at Augusta National. 5:43 p.m.: If you had the over in Amount of Times Brian Bateman Will be Interviewed in Butler Cabin This Week (listed at 0.5), you're a winner! 5:40 p.m.: Ernie Els is currently at 1-over through nine holes. Earlier this year, he wrote on his Web site that he really wanted to win the Masters and PGA Championship to bookend titles at the U.S. and British Opens. Well, he may already have a fourth major win, too, courtesy of the sublime Bob Smiley and his Fore Right blog. 5:32 p.m.: Interesting stuff from Arron Oberholser, who shot a 1-under 71 today despite playing injured:
- Q: Are you completely healed from all your problems?
A: No. This is my last tournament. I'm going to take two months off. And I've got a medical for next year. I don't know what I'm going to do, but it's no fun playing golf like this.
Q: What is it now?
A: The hand isn't healed up completely, the shoulder isn't right, and my neck is bothering me. Other than that, I'm great.
Q: Can you do anything surgically?
A: No, this is -- surgery is always a last resort. This is something where I just need some rest. The doctor who did my surgery gave me some bad advice, told me that -- he didn't understand what a golfer has to do with his left hand to hold a club, and that's where the surgery was. It was right in the palm of my left hand where I hold the golf club. I came back too early, because I thought I could, and I'm just -- I can play one round of golf, I might even be able to play two decent rounds of golf, but to play three, four consecutive and then to play two, three weeks in a row for six days a week, I can't do it.
- Here's the Anagram of the Day for Round 1:
When you rearrange the letters of the phrase "IAN POULTER ON NUDE PHOTO" you get the phrase "PUTT? NO, A PROUD HOLE-IN-ONE."
- Be back tomorrow for the Anagram of the Day for Round 2.
- The world's 12th-ranked player broke out with a pair of runner-up finishes between the Masters and U.S. Open last year, eventually leading to a win at the Western Open and the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award. But the 27-year-old Immelman has been spending this post-Masters season battling a viral parasite he contacted either through water or a meal while in Augusta. ... At one point last week, Immelman was hooked up to an intravenous tube, then had to fast for two days before being put on a diet of toast, according to swing instructor David Leadbetter.
- Here's a stat for you: In last year's Round 1 blog, you had 102 posts by 4:49, and 114 posts total. This year, by 4:49, you only have 87 posts -- including the posts that say (to paraphrase), "Back in a few, doing interviews."
• The morning fog got you off to a slow start;
• The quality of the posts is better this year (doubtful -- there were some gems last year, and -- although research is ongoing -- I believe fewer haikus);
• Skipping breakfast has made you sneak out for snacks more often this year;
• Less fan participation (also doubtful, there's been good input this year, so one assumes a greater universe to select emails from);
• Seasoned blog veterans exercise more patience than blog rookies;
• You're getting a little too cocky for the blog's good. The more posts the better A word count is next -- I'm going to hold you to task.
• I start copying and pasting entire news conference interviews, just to hit my word limit;
• I type faster and more frantically, causing the ligaments in my fingers to spontaneously burst. 4:54 p.m.: E-mail from my buddy the Fish on ESPN Radio 1380 in Seattle:
- We all know the old expression, "You can't win the Masters on Thursday, but you can lose it. So, did Fred Couples, Stuart Appleby, perhaps Geoff Ogilvy lose it today? How about Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Rory Sabbatini?
- Reading about Tiger's eagle got me thinking: How much crystal has Augusta National given Tiger over the years?
- It's amazing that Justin Rose has only played in four Masters and could be leading after 18 holes for the third time. Here are the only guys to lead after 18 at least three times:
Jack Nicklaus (4)
• Arnold Palmer (3)
• Gary Player (3)
• Lloyd Mangrum (3)
- I couldn't tell you what three holes were Amen Corner, to tell you the truth.
- Jason, why no birdies on 18? Send out a spy and let us know.
- I think the experiences I've had here at Augusta have been powerful experiences, I've had good experiences and bad experiences and you learn from both, and that's the key.
Last year I felt very comfortable in the hunt all week, really, from day one, I was on the leaderboard, and I felt comfortable with that situation and position and, enjoyed it.
Certainly I think the biggest thing about winning a major is believing you can, and last year was key for me in terms of making that step up, really.
- You'd be hung out to dry on that limb if Tiger finishes at even-par. The last champion to finish at even-par or higher, before Zach Johnson last year, was Jack Nicholson in 1966.
- Q: When did the giving away the bogey ball start, and why did it start?
A: Well, it doesn't work properly, does it, so it has to go.
Q: When did that start?
A: Long ago. As soon as I got on tour. As soon as they were free. As soon as they were free, I could sack it and get a new one.
- Tiger bogeyed 13 shortly after the post about his streak of pars. This jinx is getting too SI cover-ish for me.
- Although first-round leaders may not win very often, I see a guy who birdied his first two holes, who is most certainly capable of going wire-to-wire. In fact, it's his year to win anyway.
- I cannot imagine a more perfect day! Glad I closed shop and came down for the day. If only I could stay out of the restrooms! Seen three people escorted out for having cell phones. How STUPID!
- There have been 100 players in the lead or tied for the lead after the first round of the Masters and their average score in those first rounds was was 67.49. Those same 100 players averaged a score of 73.16 in the second round.
The last first-round leader to follow up with a lower score in the second round was Scott McCarron in 1999. Before McCarron, it was Arnold Palmer in 1964!!!! Before Palmer? Herman Keiser in 1946 and Harry Cooper in 1936!!! (Those are the only four first-round leaders to shoot lower in the second round than they did in the first round!!!)
- The last first-round leader to win was Ben Crenshaw in 1984. In fact, since
1976 -- when Ray Floyd became the last player to go wire-to-wire --
Seve Ballesteros is the only other first-round leader to go on to win.
- Your updates come slower than it takes Stuart Appleby to putt.
- Shout out to Ben Crenshaw, please -- 2-over through 16.
- In 2003, he decided to make a fresh start after years of feeling frustrated with both his game and life situation. Since then has worked hard with his attitudes towards the game, family, friends and life in general, which has changed his approach to the game, and to life as a whole, as he has become more relaxed and content both on and off the course.
- Q: There was talk about the, what you classified about the misconception about beating Tiger, what you said. That attention that was paid to you, has that motivated you in any way?
A: Not really, because nothing was said which was untoward. The comments were the comments. Which they were hard to take at the time, but I think that the article was fine. I think what I said was fine. And I think that if people read the whole piece then they can understand exactly what I was trying to say. From No. 2 to 1,000 in the world is the same as where Tiger is between one and two. So I was just saying that he's one in a million. It's a great time to be playing golf and how hard it is to achieve No. 2 in the world if you play well. I don't think any pressure has been put on me. I obviously want to play golf well all the time and there's no better stage to play golf than the Masters.
- Justin Rose has birdied four in a row to get to 2-under. What's the record for most consecutive birdies in the Masters?
- Well, it's springtime in the valley on Magnolia Lane
It's the Augusta National and the master of the game
Who'll wear that green coat on Sunday afternoon?
Who'll walk the 18th fairway singing this tune?
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it's you that I love
And it's you that I'll miss when I'm gone.
It's Watson, Byron Nelson, Demaret, Player and Snead
It's Amen Corner and it's Hogan's perfect swing
It's Sarazen's double eagle at the 15 in '35
And the spirit of a Tiger that keeps it alive
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it's you that I love
And it's you that I miss when I'm gone
It's the legions of Arnie's Army and the Golden Bear's throngs
And the wooden-shafted legend of Bobby Jones
- By the way, what is up with "Augusta" referring to the "green coat?" For as long as I can remember it's been called the green jacket. The question is: Was Dave Loggins that bad of a lyricist, or was he purely anal retentive when it came to detail?
- Who in the name of Ben Hogan dusted off Sandy Lyle and plopped him on a 2-under run? Do I smell haggis a burnin'?
- Lois Griffin: So, Peter, where shall we go for your week off?
Peter Griffin: Well, I ... I was thinking we could all go to Purgatory like we did last year!
[Scene switches to the Griffins floating in front of a plain white background]
Lois Griffin: This isn't bad ... it's not that good, but y'know ... it's not that bad.
Brian Griffin: It's so-so.
Peter Griffin: Yeah ... more or less ...
- Tiger has his hands on his face
Disbelief not because he's in 10th place
He was shocked to learn
Something he couldn't discern
Ian Poulter had just hit an ace.
- The goal of round one at the Masters
Is to avoid water and other disasters
There's Tiger at par
The lead's not too far
Not yet confounding all the forecasters.
- There once was a golfer named Ian
Who said his best golf, we'd be seein'
First two rouds were slick
Now he's paired with Eldrick
And in his pink pants he's a peein'
- Is it pink? Coral?
Hogan is rolling over
Where does Poulter shop?
- I'm not sure what's worse while blogging at work: To have your boss walk by and see you're watching the NCAA Tournament on your computer or a naked Ian Poulter holding only a pink golf bag? Just sayin' ...
- What do you think are the biggest suprises early in Round 1? How about Freddie making five bogeys on the front and making the turn at 4-over? Can he keep his cute streak alive?
- Poulter makes an ace
Ian said, "Take that, Tiger!"
Now the game is on?
- "The trouble is I don't rate anyone else. ... Don't get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger."
- The Englishman, asked by the magazine to predict the winner of the first major of the season at the Masters in April, replied: "Put Tiger down for that one."
For the year's second major at the U.S. Open, he said: "You can put me down for that one."
- Mark O'Meara went perfect for Amen Corner with birdies at 11, 12, and 13. Can't imagine many guys will do that this week.
- Too early to start saying, "I'm Johnny Cash" every time Zach Johnson makes a putt?
- Couldn't resist this one after seeing the Gary Player haiku:
When Tiger Woods wins,
He will break 67.
Crown him on Sunday.
- Heath Slocum in first?
Hey, it's the Bob Hope Classic!
Can't be the Masters.
- Enough about all the competitive major golf going on. What about the competitive blogging? Who is your competition down there? Are you favored to win this weeks blog due to your past major experience?
- I think Augusta National should have a contest where one fan gets to compete in the Masters. How great would it be to see a guy post a 200?
- "Walking from the practice green to the first tee, back then there were 40-50 yards in between and it was just the loudest sound I had ever heard. When I finally got over my ball on the first tee, my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I don't know how I even got it up in the air, but I hit a great one that flirted with the bunker but stayed in the fairway. Such a cool feeling."
- "For the record, I'll take the under. I don't think anyone -- not even some of the older former champions like Raymond Floyd or Gary Player -- will find the ugly side of 85, but we'll keep track of this throughout the day."
- Still want to take the under? With Player 8-over through eight holes, he needs to shoot the last 10 holes in less than 5-over to break 85. Plus, Zoeller is 8-over through 12, so there is a shot he might hit the ugly side of 85 as well.
- The Masters is such a great tourney with all of the history and tradition.
With that being said, isn't it time that crusties like Player and Zoeller move aside and let some of the younger crowd, who actually can compete, have a chance?
- Hope there's no blog jinx, but I've always liked Justin Leonard. Nice to see him up there, and hope he keeps playing well.
- Do you see Gary hanging 'em up at Augusta after this year? I know he really enjoys playing and I love him, but I think it's pretty unfair and frustrating to have to play with or behind a guy who is hitting it all over the yard, even for a player with the stature of Gary.
- "This is my 51st Masters. And that means I've spent 51 weeks here, which is almost a year of my life."
- If Gary Player
Does not break 90, they should
Hide his clubs Friday.
- Which would be the bigger upset:
Zach Johnson (ranked outside the world's top-30 at the time) winning last year when the course was cold, fast and dry, forcing players to dial it down and play smart? Or someone like Scott Verplank or even Jim Furyk (both in the top-25 in the World Rankings but in the bottom quarter on tour in length off the tee) winning this year with the course playing soft, wet and looooooooong?
- I bet Slocum would take 3-under now.
- Do they serve Heineken in the press tent? Have you started?
- "Yeah, I had dinner with Nick last night," said Dougherty. "Nick" is Faldo, who first spotted the boy from Bootle and put him on the path to Georgia via his celebrated Junior Series. "He was great, very helpful. We talked about different shots to use around the greens and secret ways to check what that swirling wind is really doing. We went through each individual hole, looking at where the flags are going to be, the right places to hit it and where you can't afford to miss. He pointed out a couple of things it would probably have taken me years to realise [sic]. It makes me believe I've prepared really, really well. That and the four days I've just had there."
- How many Aussies will finish in the top-10? I'm putting the over/under at three.
A: It's tough to say. I think it's all pretty much the same, but if I won one, I'd love it to be the Masters.
Q: More than the British?
A: Yeah, because an Australian has never won the Masters. I know you can just click the link and read this, but some more good stuff from Scott in that interview: Q: On to some more serious stuff. Where does winning a major championship rank on your list of priorities?
A: Obviously, No. 1. To win a major championship -- I think, at the end of the day, that's what a golfer's career is based upon.
Q: You have never finished closer than six strokes to the winner in 27 career majors. How come?
A: Well, I really haven't taken my best stuff into a major yet. It's been something that I've struggled with, peaking on those four weeks of the year. I'm working really hard to change that.
Q: What are your feelings going into a major championship week? Excitement? Nerves? Some combination of the two?Scott WD'd from the Houston Open due to a high fever and throat infection last week, spent a few days bedridden and didn't practice here after showing up on Monday. Not the way he'd like to go into the biggest week of the year. 11:11 a.m.: BLOG JINX!!! For those familiar with the live blogs from last year's majors, you know that, without fault, every single time a player gets mentioned in here, he screws up within minutes. (For those who weren't familiar with the live blogs from last year's majors, where the hell were you?) Well, we've just had out first blog jinx of the week, as Heath Slocum makes bogey on No. 9 and drops to 2-under for the tournament. Sorry 'bout that, dude. 11:09 a.m.: I'd love to ask the following question of Heath Slocum right now: Would you rather go straight to the locker room at 3-under right now with a chance of being the leader through the end of play on Sunday or play 64 more holes and take your chances? I think he'd say he wants to play, but knows deep down inside that 3-under would be pretty damn cool. 11:02 a.m.: E-mail from Ian Poulter, who must have ducked into a porta-potty to send this:
A: It's a combination of the two, but I'd certainly like to see the excitement level going up. I think there's more and more excitement now. I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my abilities to win one, so excitement should take over.
- Thanks, Sobel, for saying the early players aren't the cream. Trust me, it's just me and Tiger out there ...
- Scenes from a golfing village, part one: Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter are hitting balls on a driving range in Tucson, Arizona, when along comes Lee Westwood and takes his place between them. "Oh, I'm so nervous," says Westwood, who is almost as good at drollery as he is at smacking golf balls towards distant flags. "I don't know if I'm good enough to practise [sic] between the best two players in the world."
- What hole will Slocum blow the save on? And when did he change sports?
Me: Too long for you?
Heath: Well ... Slocum doesn't hit the ball a long way, so his game isn't quite built for a big course like this. He told me he was hitting 4-irons, 3-irons, even hybrids into a lot of the par-4 holes, which puts him at a huge disadvantage against some longer hitters who can hit 6- and 7-irons into the greens. And so maybe it makes sense that both of Slocum's birdies so far came at the par-3 holes on the front side, Nos. 4 and 6. 10:31 a.m.: E-mail from my buddy Casey in Austin, Texas:
- I know you'll say it's way too early, but ... there are lots of red numbers so far -- and the guys on the course aren't exactly the cream. Other than No. 2, those first five or six holes aren't all that easy. There could be a low number posted today.
- Are you doing the "spy reports" in your blog again this year? If so, tell people to be careful. I just saw someone escorted out for talking on a cell phone. There goes their badge! I'm typing from the bathroom.
- Can you get a picture of Tiger when he tees off for me?
- Who you got in the past champions over 50 crowd as the low man? I'm saying Ben Crenshaw again.
- Tiger has never shot below 70 in the first round. Do you think that he plays Round 1 like a boxer, just feeling the course out, not allowing himself to be knocked out early? If so, isn't it likely he leaves birdies out there that he needs on Sunday, ya know, like when he loses by 2 to Zach Johnson? Or do you think he always tries to go low?
- To make things more interesting: Ben Curtis, Rich Beem, Todd Hamilton, Shaun Micheel. Who will have the highest score this week? The lowest score?
- Give us an update on weather conditions this morning!
• 12 p.m.: Partly cloudy. Temp: 65F. Winds: NE 5-10 mph.
• 3 p.m.: Partly cloudy. Temp: 74F. Winds: ENE 5-10 mph. Advantage: Late guys. Doesn't look like the wind is going to kick up much in the afternoon, and anyone who's ever hit a ball knows it's easier to do in 74-degree weather than 55, so expect some leaders to come from later groups today. 9:24 a.m.: Heath Slocum joins the leaders at even-par through one hole, while Fuzzy Zoeller and Brett Wetterich each make bogey to fall one stroke behind. And no, I will not be updating every golfer's score on every hole this week. Just excited to see a little golf going on. 9:18 a.m.: If the Masters ended right now ... Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel would be co-leaders at even-par through one hole. Each guy made par at No. 1 and though I'm not going to overanalyze this too much, Jerry Kelly told me on Tuesday that the first hole is playing tougher than ever before. And Tiger Woods has often said that it's the toughest opening hole in all of golf. Will be interesting to see how many other players can remain at level-par after the first one. 9:12 a.m.: E-mail from Tim in Indianapolis:
- I'm a big fan of Gary Player. What are his odds of winning this year?
- Have you been to T-Bonz this year? If so, what famous athletes have you run into?
- In case you care, it's foggy in Virginia this morning, too, and nobody said that I could come in an hour later when the fog lifted.
- Last pairing -- er, grouping -- is scheduled to now go out at 2:43. Giving that it is threesomes, what are the chances they finish play today?
- "I was standing just off the fairway where Arnie's ball landed. An official walked into the fairway, picked up the ball and walked away."
- "I was out there for Arnie's tee shot and there was a medium-dense fog, but it wasn't too bad. But now? You can't see 100 yards out there. It's total pea soup."
- What's the over/under on Ocho Cinco scores for the first day of the 2008 Masters? Last year, there was three. I'll put it at 1.5, seeing that the conditions won't be as brutally cold.
• "Hey, we still have one more major than 99.99 percent of the world's population, right?
• "What, they couldn't give us Hamilton and Beem and make it a foursome? As the 2003 British Open and PGA champions, the five-year Masters exemption ends after this week for Curtis and Micheel. If they want back in, they'll have to play their way back. 8:10 a.m.: First e-mail of the day from Bart in Tennessee:
- Good morning! What's for breakfast?
- "I feel great. I'm just sorry I'm not going to go all the way. ... [The ceremonial first tee shot] is tradition and what Augusta is all about."
MORE GOLF HEADLINES
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MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
2008 MASTERS TOURNAMENT
When: Thursday-Sunday, April 10-13
Where: Augusta National Golf Club
Yardage, Par: 7,445 yards; par 72
2007 champion: Zach Johnson
Details: Course | Field | Tee times
More: Past champs | Masters.org
More: Leaderboard | Complete video
Fourth round• Final-round recap | Photos | Podcast
• Wojciechowski: Course wins final round
• Harig: Immelman an underdog with some bite
• Sirak: Another manic Masters Sunday
• Snedeker's close call leaves him in tears
• Sobel's final-round blog
• ESPN sets cable golf ratings record
• Sunday Conversation: Trevor Immelman
• Immelman gets his green jacket
• Final-round highlights | North's analysis
• Immelman | Woods | Snedeker | Mickelson
• Golf goes worldwide
Third round• Third-round recap | Photos | Podcast
• Harig: Unlikely final four
• Wojciechowski: Keep a close eye on Tiger
• Sobel: What the contenders need to do
• Sirak: Mickelson's mental meltdown
• Jason Sobel's third-round blog
• Third-round highlights
• Woods' round | Post-round interview
• Andy North's third-round analysis
Second round• Second-round recap | Photos | Podcast
• Harig: Sunday's winner around Friday's lead
• Wojciechowski: Immelman a battle-tested leader
• Sirak: Tiger's seven back, but it's not impossible
• Couples, Sabbatini among those missing cut
• Jason Sobel's second-round blog
• Harig: The man who's seen 'em all
• Second-round highlights | North's analysis
• Immelman: Highlights | Press room | Interview
• Woods reflects on second round
• Snedeker one-shot out of lead
First round• Opening-round recap | Photo gallery | Podcast
• Harig: As Woods knows, birdies tough to find
• Jason Sobel's first-round blog
• Harig: Poulter, aka 'No. 2', cards a '1'
• Wojciechowski: Kuehne's unique ride
• Sirak: Palmer's wonderful life on display again
• Rose and Immelman share lead
• Andy North breaks down the first round
• News conferences: Immelman | Rose
• Woods shoots opening-round 72
• Woods discusses his round
• Poulter aces the 16th
Masters Preview•Sobel: Ranking the entire field
•Amen Corner audio slide show | Harig
More coverage• GolfDigest.com's Masters Countdown
• Golf World Masters preview edition
• ESPNMag.com: Six words about Tiger
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