Masters 2012: Mixed Results for Favorites in First Round at Augusta National

Fred AltvaterContributor IIApril 5, 2012

Lee Westwood leads after the first round at the Masters
Lee Westwood leads after the first round at the MastersAndrew Redington/Getty Images

Everyone knows the old saying: "You can’t win the Masters on Thursday but you can lose it."

Veteran players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood just want to avoid disaster in the early rounds and not shoot themselves out of the tournament.

It appears the pre-tournament favorites have done just that.

Everyone’s favorite, Tiger Woods shot an even par 72.  He birdied the short par-4 No. 3 and turned the front nine in 35. 

He picked up another birdie at No. 10 but finished bogey-bogey on 17 and 18 to fall back to even.

All-in-all, Tiger’s round was acceptable–he is within five shots of the leader Lee Westwood who carded a five under-par 67.

Westwood was the only pre-tournament favorite that turned in a solid round.  He had five birdies with only one bogey on the front side for a 32 and finished on the back with two birdies and another bogey.

Rory McIlroy began his day with a double bogey on the first hole and had to birdie the 18th hole to finish his day with a respectable one under-par 71.  

Luke Donald had the worst round of the favorites and is the only one even close to worrying about making the 36 hole cut. 

He posted a score of three over par 75.  Three bogeys and two birdies on the front yielded a 37.  One birdie on the back side at No. 17 was offset by bogeys at No. 11 and No. 13.

A first round 75 had Luke Donald scratching his head.
A first round 75 had Luke Donald scratching his head.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

There was also a fuss over his scorecard after he had signed for his 75, but it was all a bit of nothing, and his score stands.

Three time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson struggled to a 74.  He was four over par after posting a triple bogey seven on No. 10.  But an eagle on No. 13, another bogey on No. 14, followed by birdies at No. 15 and No. 17 got him back to a respectable two over par for the day.

Only 14 of the 95 players were under par for their rounds on Thursday.  Overnight rains have softened the course making it play long. 

With softer greens, the Masters Committee put the pins in difficult positions to keep the scoring in check.

2010 British Open Champions Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Hanson are one shot back of Westwood at four under par. 

Six players are one more back and tied at three under par.

European Tour players dominated the leader board.  Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Scott Stallings are the only American players in the Top-13 spots.

Every player just wants to be within two or three shots of the leader heading into the Back nine on Sunday.