The final groups have begun on the front nine at Augusta National, but a large portion of the field has already walked off the green at Holly to turn in a Day 1 scorecard.
With the first several groups in the clubhouse, the top of the leaderboard has taken shape. MarcLeishman, David Lynn, Jim Furyk and K.J. Choi round out the early leaders from Thursday’s action, setting up each with good positioning for Friday’s round.
The first two days at Augusta are all about building momentum and staying in the running. Saturday is moving, but these four golfers have already started making their move in pursuit of the green jacket.
Let’s take a look at the top four rounds of early action and break down each player’s scorecard, highlighting the holes that put them in early contention.
1. Marc Leishman (66): As of 3:25 p.m. ET
Golf is all about hitting a shot and moving on to the next, and it takes a short memory to do so. Leishman hit a bump in the road at No. 1 with a bogey, but his scorecard would remain blemish-free from that point on.
Leishman birdied No. 3 and No. 8 to finish the front nine at one under, but he caught fire on the back nine with five birdies, including four in his last six holes. A five-under back nine would move him to six under atop the early leaderboard.
Despite the perils of Amen Corner, the back nine has proved much more conducive to low scoring. As long as Leishman can continue to play the front nine close to even par, he’ll be in prime position to retain his spot atop the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
2. David Lynn (68): As of 3:25 p.m. ET
Lynn’s 8:22 a.m. tee time put him among the first to return to the clubhouse Thursday. When he walked off No. 18, Lynn was the clubhouse leader with a four-under 68.
The 39-year-old traversed the front nine at three under with a bogey-free scorecard, but things got a little bumpier on the back nine. Bogeys at No. 10 and No. 17 marked a card that was otherwise tremendous, highlighted by two birdies at Amen Corner.
The first-time Masters participant didn’t seem to have the jitters we normally see in Augusta newcomers, and his confidence should be sky-high heading into Day 2.
3. Jim Furyk (69): As of 3:25 p.m. ET
Furyk’s struggles last year seem to be in the past—at least it looked that way on Thursday. With four birdies on the front nine and an even-par back nine without a bogey to speak of, the seasoned Augusta veteran put himself in prime position to be a serious contender this weekend.
A lone bogey on No. 9 was the only blemish on Furyk’s scorecard, but he did leave some shots on the table. The par-five 15th was playing 530 yards on Day 1, and it seemed everyone else was taking advantage of the shorter hole with a slew of birdies and eagles. Furyk made par, but he’ll need to pick up those extra shots on quality scoring holes if he hopes to make a serious run at the green jacket.
Still, the 42-year-old can’t be unhappy with his Round 1 performance. Thursday and Friday are all about consistency and confidence, and he can’t be upset with a three-under finish and a spot near the top of the leaderboard.
4. Zach Johnson (69): As of 3:25 p.m. ET
Like Furyk, Zach Johnson didn’t produce a lot of low numbers in his opening round, but he also didn’t find many blemishes on his card.
After a bogey at No. 1, Johnson evened it back up with a birdie at the par-five 15th and went on to par the next 10 holes of his round. After escaping the first two holes of Amen Corner with even par, the 37-year-old birdied No. 13 and No. 14 and added a third back-nine birdie at No. 18.
Appropriately, Johnson also missed out on a scoring opportunity at No. 15 with a five, but the rest of his round was impressive enough to make us believe the 2007 Masters winner has enough momentum to make a run at another green jacket this year.