Masters 2014 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 1
Nobody can win a green jacket on the first day of the Masters, but plenty of players can certainly lose it.
Thursday was a beautiful kick-off to one of the most beloved sporting events, the Masters. The legendary Big Three of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus kicked things off with the ceremonial opening tee shot, and the competitors took it over from there.
This year in Augusta there are a record number of rookies on the course, along with a father and son making Masters history. Rory McIlroy is trying to win his first green jacket, Adam Scott is trying to keep his and Sergio Garcia is just trying to keep up.
Here are the winners and losers from opening day.
Winner: Defending Champion
Only three men in the history of golf have ever repeated as Masters Champions, but Adam Scott is trying his hardest to make that number go up to four.
On Thursday, the Aussie shot a 69, putting him just one shot behind the leader, Bill Haas. He tied his first-round score from last year, which should be a good omen. Scott's only big misstep came on the 12th hole, when he hit the ball in the water and ended up with a double bogey. He also missed a few puts along the way, meaning his good round could have been even better.
According to CBS Sports, Scott told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that he was feeling comfortable on the course as the defending champion.
There was certainly a level of comfort coming off the first today. The Masters is usually the most nervous I am all year and it takes me a few holes to settle down. But today I was very comfortable and enjoyed every minute of it.
Loser: Television Coverage
The Masters has its own rules, and we all just have to deal with it. That doesn't mean that we have to like it, though.
The opening tee shot at the Masters was hit at 7:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, and the final pairing teed off at 1:59 p.m. ET. But there wasn't any live television on in the U.S. until 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. CBS Sports Network had a window dedicated to the Masters before coverage on ESPN started, but it was only allowed to show footage from the driving range and practice course.
The streams on Masters.com certainly helped, but they were limited and didn't come on until three hours after the first group teed off. The Masters wants to keep its event sacred and make sure that viewers in person get a special experience, but it is ridiculous for the most prestigious event in golf not to be televised all the way through.
Winner: Bill Haas
If you had Bill Haas as the clubhouse leader after the first round, please collect your prize. Not even Haas himself expected that.
The 31-year-old has five PGA Tour wins but has never played his best golf in a major. In his career, Haas has never finished in the Top 10 in a major. His best finish at the Masters came last year when he tied for 20th.
But Haas shot a 68 on the first day, launching him to the top of the leaderboard at four under par. It might finally be time for the man from Charlotte, North Carolina to shine.
Loser: Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson won the Masters back in 2007, but hasn't done much on the lawns of Augusta since.
But Johnson has had a good season and had 25-1 odds, per golfodds.com, to win the green jacket before the tournament began. Unfortunately, he pretty much played himself out of contention on the first day, shooting a six-over 78. He is currently tied for 80th.
Johnson is going to have to shoot a magical round on Friday just to make the cut.
Winner: Masters Rookies
It was a pretty good day to be making your Masters debut.
Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old who was last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, shot a one-under par 71 his first official time around the course. Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler from the U.S. and Jonas Blixt from Sweden all shot a 70 in their rookie round, putting them just two shots behind the leader.
There are 24 rookies in the field this year, which is a Masters record.
Loser: Phil's Triple Bogey
In a tradition unlike any other, Phil Mickelson has shot another triple bogey at the Masters.
Last year his triple bogey came during the final round, but this time he shot it on the first nine of his first lap around the course. On the seventh hole, a par 4, Mickelson shot a triple bogey that included a disastrous chip and an embarrassing three-put.
Some also speculated that Mickelson, who has won the Masters three times, tweaked his problematic back on the hole. Lefty had a few highlights the rest of the way, including this fabulous birdie put on No. 10, but he finished the round with a four-over 76, eight strokes behind the leader. The 76 tied the worst opening round in a Masters in his career.
Winner: The Big Three
The ceremonial opening tee shot at the Masters this year was indeed a legendary one, with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus teaming up to kick off the event.
Between them, the trio has 34 major titles, including 13 Masters victories. Pretty impressive. Palmer hit first, followed by Player and then Nicklaus. Nicklaus' ball trickled just past Player's, meaning that once again Nicklaus was the king.
Loser: The Afternoon
It's impossible for the golf course conditions to be the same all day, but it's always disappointing that some players get the short end of the stick.
While the sun was shining on Thursday in Augusta, the wind began swirling in the afternoon, leaving the players with late tee times a more difficult path to shooting a round under par than their morning counterparts.
Overall, the players who teed off before 11:00 a.m. ET had the lower scores. Out of the 11 players who were two-under or better, only three of them started their rounds after 11 a.m. ET: Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.
Friday afternoon is expected to be slightly windy as well, but everything will balance out, as the tee times will be reversed for Day 2.
Winner: The Favorite
Last year Rory McIlroy came into the Masters reeling after equipment and team changes put the two-time major champion into a slump. What a difference a year makes.
This year, the 24-year-old came into Augusta as the oddsmakers favorite to win his first green jacket. McIlroy famously led the Masters in 2011 after three rounds, before shooting an 80 to finish tied for 15th, his best finish at this major.
He kept himself in the conversation on Thursday, shooting a one-under par 71. According to the BBC Masters live blog, McIlroy was satisfied with his performance under tough conditions.
It was a good day at the office. They set the course up very difficult . Some of the pin positions were tough to get close to. For the most part I felt like I put my ball in the positions I wanted to be in.
The greens are firming up, the wind was all over the place and anything under par today is a good score.
Loser: The Father
Craig and Kevin Stadler made history on Thursday, becoming the first father and son duo to compete in the Masters in the same year.
Craig, 60, has now played in 38 Masters, with his best coming in 1982 when he won the green jacket. His son Kevin, 34, was making his Masters debut.
Kevin had a wonderful debut, shooting a two-under 70, putting him in contention. Craig, long past his glory days, didn't fare so well. He shot an 82, and told reporters afterwards, "My whole game stinks."
But while Craig might be feeling like a loser on the course after his highest-ever round at the Masters, he can be proud to know that his legacy continues.
Winner: The 2012 Playoff Participants
Back in 2012, American Bubba Watson and South African Louis Oosthuizen both finished four rounds at the Masters tied at 10-under-par, meaning the two moved on to a sudden-death playoff.
It was Watson who ended up winning the green jacket that year on the second playoff hole, while Oosthuizen was left with his lone major, the 2010 Open Championship.
Last year, Oosthuizen missed the cut and Watson finished tied for 50th, but this year both are back in good form. Both men are tied for second at three-under par after Thursday's round—along with last year's winner Adam Scott—just one shot off the lead.
Loser: Luke Donald
It was not a good day for Luke Donald. The former World No. 1, who was the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2011, continued his struggles in majors, this time finishing with a 79, seven shots over par.
It didn't look quite as bad immediately after his round, though. Donald originally signed his card with a six on the par-four ninth hole. But he was later approached by officials who said that he touched the sand with his club prior to hitting a bunker shot, and therefore was given a two-stroke penalty. This left him with a quadruple bogey on that hole, and moved his overall total from a 77 to a 79.
Donald's best Masters finish was a tie for third back in 2005, but considering he is tied for 87th right now, he's unlikely to best that this weekend.