Recent history suggests that Marc Leishman would be wise to soak in every second of his Day 1 performance at Augusta National Golf Club.
The 29-year-old Australian came out of nowhere on Thursday to take the lead at the 2013 Masters, knocking in seven birdies (five on the back nine) after bogeying the first hole to finish with a 6-under, 66 for the first round. Prior to this April, Leishman had made one appearance at the year's first major, missing the cut in 2010.
This tweet from ESPN's Justin Ray says it all.
Before today, Marc Leishman had never been any higher than T-15th following any round in a major.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2013
And while a strong start at the Masters can have you well on your way to winning a green jacket, it hardly guarantees success over the final three rounds. Instead, a start like Leishman's can often ensure an epic collapse, as the only place to go is down.
Just consider how recent Day 1 leaders have fared at Augusta. Last year, Lee Westwood led at 5-under after the first round, but went on to shoot a 73 in Round 2 and finish tied for third two strokes back of the leaders.
In 2011, Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros led at 7-under through one round. Quiros would shoot over par the rest of the way to finish tied for 27th and McIlroy posted an 8-over, 80 in the final round to finish tied for 15th, 10 strokes back of the leader.
Fred Couples led after the first round in 2010, shooting a 6-under 66 just like Leishman. Unfortunately, Couples shot a 75 in the second round and went on to finish sixth for the tournament.
The last Day 1 leader to finish with the lead was Chad Campbell in 2009. Campbell led at 7-under after the first round and went on to finish tied for the lead at 12-under. Still, he lost in a playoff as Angel Cabrera would go on to win.
South Africa's Trevor Immelman was the last Day 1 leader to go on to win the Masters.
Will Marc Leishman win the 2013 Masters?
While there is the possibility Leishman becomes the next Trevor Immelman this spring, recent history is not on his side. Since 2001, Immelman, who shared the lead with Justin Rose after 18 holes, is the only Day 1 leader to have gone on to win the Masters.
But Immelman had previous Masters experience, recording a fifth place finish at Augusta in 2005 and having played the tournament multiple times before 2008.
Leishman on the other hand has only played all four rounds at a major tournament four times since 2010 and has never finished better than tied for 27th. Leishman will be in uncharted territory in terms of pressure when he tees off in the second round.
From there, the pressure will only increase as the hot-starting Aussie gets set to fight an uphill battle against Masters history.
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