Groups 3 and 4 had a lot of first-day success at Augusta National on Thursday, producing three golfers with scores of two under or better. While there’s a lot of golf yet to be played on Day 1, David Lynn, Kevin Na and David Toms highlight the best of the early groups’ rounds.
Lynn and Na teed off in Group 3 at 8:22 a.m., each finding their way to the clubhouse with a strong foundation heading into Day 2. Lynn has since had some competition atop the leaderboard, but his four-under 68 made him the tournament leader by the completion of his first round.
Toms teed off with Ted Potter Jr. and Richard Sterne in Group 4 at 8:33 a.m., but he pulled away from the rest of his group in a hurry, besting each by at least three shots by the time they walked off the green at Holly.
Lynn’s 68 was the most impressive early round of Day 1, but he has a long way to go if he hopes to remain in the lead heading into the weekend.
We’ll take a look at each golfer’s first round, breaking down what Lynn, Na and Toms did to secure a strong position on the Day 1 leaderboard.
David Lynn (68)
Lynn had an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the opening round of play, but bogeys at No. 10 and No. 17 resulted in two dropped shots and a four-under finish.
The 39-year-old is making his first appearance at the Masters, though, and he certainly surprised a lot of people. With a spotless card through the front nine (three under) and three birdies on the back (including two at Amen Corner), he put himself in great position.
First-time participants have only won twice at the Masters (including the inaugural contest), but Lynn certainly appears poised to add a third this year.
However, the Englishman hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. With a second-place finish at the PGA Championship last year and two top-15 finishes already this season (Honda Class, Valero Texas Open), Lynn will be a golfer to watch on Friday.
Kevin Na (70)
Na had the kind of round that makes projecting his Day 2 prospects a difficult venture. With a bogey on No. 5, a double bogey on No. 9 and a back-nine performance highlighted by two birdies and an eagle (on No. 15), it’s hard to tell what to expect from the 29-year-old when Day 2 begins.
Still, Na’s performance on the back nine was impressive, traversing some of Augusta’s most challenging holes with a spotless scorecard that erased his two-over front nine.
Winning at Augusta is all about momentum and confidence. Na got the front-nine jitters out of his system at the right time, and he should be much better prepared for a strong opening nine on Friday.
Na made his first appearance at Augusta in 2010, but he missed the cut that year and in the following Masters. A 12th-place finish last year is enough to suggest he can remain near the top of the leaderboard into the weekend, however.
David Toms (70)
Like Na, Toms struggled a little in the early going. With back-to-back bogeys on No. 4 and No. 5, the 46-year-old PGA Tour veteran found himself in the middle of the pack in the early pairings.
Toms’ back nine was one of the most impressive of the early action, however, firing birdies on No. 9 and No. 10 after the turn. He escaped Amen Corner with three pars, bogeyed No. 14 and fired an eagle at No. 15 before playing the final two holes at even par.
Firethorn will be one of the most exciting holes to watch this weekend. The par-five 15th is playing at 530 yards on Day 1, making reaching the green in two a virtual certainty for the longer players in the tournament. The first 11 groups played Firethorn at 25 under with five eagles and 17 birdies.
Toms isn’t new to the major tournament scene. With a PGA Championship win (2001) and several top-10 finishes in majors (including a sixth-place finish at Augusta in 1998), Toms won’t crumble under the pressure of one of the most challenging courses on tour. Look for the veteran to even out his erratic scorecard with another quality showing on Day 2.