The greatest scene in golf, and arguably the greatest scene in professional sports, got underway on Thursday with the start of The Masters.
All of the players stepping up to the first tee at Augusta dream of wearing the green jacket, but the course has a way of humbling the best players in a hurry. Parity is also a huge part of the sport now, with no player winning multiple majors in a season since Padraig Harrington in 2008.
With all eyes focused on the Masters this weekend, and scores changing in a hurry, here is a snapshot look at what's happened on Thursday, as well as a glimpse at the players who have impressed and disappointed.
|1||Bill Haas||-4 (68)|
|2||Adam Scott||-3 (Thru 17)|
|T3||Kevin Stadler||-2 (70)|
|T3||Jonas Blixt||-2 (70)|
|T3||Gary Woodland||-2 (70)|
|T3||Jimmy Walker||-2 (70)|
|T3||K.J. Choi||-2 (70)|
|T3||Brandt Snedeker||-2 (70)|
|T3||Rory McIlroy||-2 (Thru 16)|
|T3||Louis Oosthuizen||-2 (Thru 12)|
|T11||Fred Couples||-1 (71)|
|T11||Rickie Fowler||-1 (71)|
|T11||Miguel Jimenez||-1 (71)|
|T11||Matteo Manassero||-1 (71)|
|T11||Patrick Reed||-1 (Thru 16)|
Follow live and updated leaderboards with B/R's Masters blog throughout the weekend.
Biggest Surprise: Bill Haas (-4)
Haas isn't exactly an out-of-nowhere name at the top of the leaderboard. He's been on the PGA Tour since 2004 and ranks 31st in the world golf rankings, and has had a fantastic start to the 2014 season with 11 cuts made in 11 events and two top-10 finishes.
There's also been a slow, steady progression for Haas at the Masters. The 31-year-old has gone from a 42nd-place tie in 2011 to a tie for 37th in 2012 to a tie for 20th last year. But he's never been a threat to win the green jacket.
Yet here we are, despite a bogey on No. 17, with Haas looking strong on the back nine to be up near the top of the leaderboard.
Bill Haas follows up his birdie on No. 13 with another on on No. 14. Watch the leader live on Nos. 15 and 16: http://t.co/HqDJPmMFKH— Masters Tournament (@The_Masters) April 10, 2014
Haas didn't do anything special in the first round, but was able to save himself after a bad hole. He bogeyed the first hole, then came back with a birdie on the second hole. His day ended with a bogey on 17, then a birdie on 18.
Minimizing the damage and saving your mistakes are the keys to success at Augusta. So far, so good for Haas.
Biggest Disappointment: Angel Cabrera (+6)
What's the biggest story from Augusta on Thursday?
Everything about Cabrera's play this season should have prepared us for the disaster that was his first-round performance, yet it's still so surreal to see. The 44-year-old has played eight PGA events in 2014, making just two cuts with no top 10 finishes.
The Masters is a tournament that Cabrera has thrived in throughout his career. He was the runner-up last year, won the event in 2009 and has six career top 10 finishes at Augusta. This was supposed to be the event where he corrected himself.
Ryan Lavner of the Golf Channel put Cabrera's day in perspective with a perfect tweet on this miserable first-round performance:
A couple of sleeper picks, Angel Cabrera (+3) and Zach Johnson (+4), appear to be asleep early. #Masters— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) April 10, 2014
Barring a miracle comeback on Friday, Cabrera's weekend is going to start very early. He's currently tied for 84th in a 97-player field. Hopefully this is as low as the former Masters champion gets and a turnaround will happen soon.
Friday Player to Watch: Brandt Snedeker (-2)
Before the tournament began Snedeker was high on the favorites list for oddsmakers at 25/1, according to Vegas Insider. He wasn't dazzling in the first round on Thursday, but played a smart round to keep himself in contention heading into Friday.
There were some troubling elements to Snedeker's play on Day 1, specifically three bogeys on the back nine, yet he was able to offset that with back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and 16 and a three-under par, bogey-free performance on the front nine.
Snedeker has flirted with winning a major championship in the past, most notably finishing tied for third at the 2012 British Open and tied for sixth at last year's Masters. Eventually everything will fall into place for the 33-year old.
There's still a lot of golf left to be played in Augusta, but so far the results have been extremely encouraging.
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