Only a select few are lucky enough to experience playing golf at the prestigious Augusta National. But even fewer are lucky enough to experience Augusta under perfect conditions like today at the Masters. The skies were blue, the winds were calm, and the golf course looked like it always is: perfect.
In a field of 99—featuring six amateurs and 17 past champions—two players were able to pull away from the rest of the field. Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros hold a two-stroke lead over Y.E Yang and K.J Choi.
McIlroy he put on the accelerator early with birdies on Holes 2,3, and 4. Rory never took his foot off the gas: he birdied 11, 14, and 15 on his way to a seven-under, bogey-free 65.
However, McIlroy’s near perfect round on Thursday shouldn’t necessarily be an indicator of what’s the come from the 21 year-old Irishman. At St. Andrews in 2010, McIlroy opened with a record-tying nine-under 63, but was unable to continue his hot streak as he followed it with an nine-over 80.
McIlroy’s 65 appeared like it would hold up as the top score, but Alvaro Quiros, who was in the last group to tee off, was able to birdie three out of his last four holes to tie the young Irishman as Thursday’s leader. Quiros had only one blemish on his scorecard: a bogey on par-three tenth, but his eight birdies were more than enough to make up for it.
In 2007, Masters Champion Zach Johnson birdied 11 of the 16 par-fives, as showed the world than in order to be successful at Augusta you must be efficient on the par-five. Quiros followed in Johnson’s footsteps and he was able to convert a birdie on all four of Augusta’s longest holes.
The two highest paid athletes in the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, were also able to post red numbers and remain within striking distance. Tiger said that he was “very pleased” with his opening round, despite being six shots back. Phil waited until the 18th to post his final bogey as he finished with a two-under 70.
No lead is ever safe at Augusta, especially when we are only 18 holes into a 72-hole tournament. McIlroy and Quiros may have won the battle with their excellent performances on Thursday, but only time will tell who will win the war.
Remember, every golf tournament is a marathon and not a sprint. 54 holes still remain, and with 30 players under par after Thursday, no one can predict what is going to happen. The Masters is sure to provide us with an incredible weekend of golf, as Augusta has never let us down.