Masters 2012 Leaderboard: 1st-Round Standouts to Keep an Eye on

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterApril 5, 2012

Miguel Jimenez
Miguel JimenezJamie Squire/Getty Images

The first round of the Masters is still underway, but there are a handful of players who have played 18 holes and have called it a day.

Some of them are heading to the clubhouse with their chins held high, which is typical behavior for golfers who have just finished off a solid round (not that I would know, of course).

If you take a look at the leaderboard, a couple players who have an "F" next to their names stand out from the rest of the pack. Here's a rundown of the standouts that you need to pay attention to as we speed towards the weekend.

Henrik Stenson

First-Round Score: -1

Right now, casual golf fans all over the world are asking one question:

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"Alright, who the heck is this Henrick Stenson guy?"

Well, for starters, he was the leader for much of the day, at one point going as low as six-under. In fact, he was at five-under heading to the final tee, and he was at the top of the leaderboard.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Henrik Stenson of Sweden and his caddie Oliver O'Reilly look at a shot from the rough on the 15th hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Pho
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

And then he carded a snowman on the par-four 18th. Killer blow, dude. Killer blow.

Virtually all of Stenson's first-round success came on the front nine. He didn't have a single bogey in the first nine holes, but he did have two eagles and a birdie.

You wonder if the pressure got to him in the second round, as he was all over the place and then finally crumbled on 18. He does have some demons to slay at Augusta National, as he's missed the cut at the Masters in each of the last two years, so perhaps those demons got the better of him.

Still, you have to give Stenson credit for getting hot in the first place. If he can settle down overnight and come back out in Round 2 playing like he did early on in Round 1, he'll be able to avoid slipping further down the leaderboard.

Paul Lawrie

First-Round Score: -3

Suddenly, Paul Lawrie.

I don't know where he came from either. All I know is that it's very, very weird to see him at the top of the leaderboard. Lawrie hasn't been relevant since winning the British Open in 1999. 

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Paul Lawrie of Scotland hits an approach shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Lawrie didn't do anything special on the front nine, but the next thing anybody knew he eagled 13 and 15 to jump way up the leaderboard. He then finished his round with a birdie on 17 and a bogey on 18.

According to Golf World, Lawrie had never made a single eagle in his life before today. He went and notched two eagles in three holes. That, my friends, is amazing. I'm envious.

Right now, it's way too easy to chalk Lawrie's big day up to good luck. After all, it's not like he has Augusta National under his thumb. This is his first Masters start since 2004, when he finished tied for 37th.

Nevertheless, good luck is a big part of golf. Consider Lawrie a threat until his good luck runs out.

Miguel Jimenez

First-Round Score: -3

The world is a much more interesting place when Miguel Jimenez is doing work. He's just so darned colorful.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain hits a tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

There are no eagles to speak of concerning Jimenez's round, nor are there any snowmen to speak of. He just played good golf on Thursday, with four birdies and just a single bogey.

We've seen Jimenez do well at the Masters before. He finished in the top 10 at the Masters three times between 2000 and 2009, and he finished tied for 12th in 2010. There are golfers out there who are more talented that Jimenez, but not many can match his experience at Augusta.

Experience counts for a lot at Augusta, especially this year with the tough conditions. If Jimenez can stay as steady in the next three rounds as he did in Round 1, he's not going to stray far from the top of the leaderboard.

Padraig Harrington

First-Round Score: -1

When Padraig Harrington won the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday, he was already doomed. Nobody who wins the Par 3 Contest goes on to win the Masters, and Harrington knows that as well as anyone.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Padraig Harrington of Ireland (R) waits alongside caddie Ronan Flood (L) on the first hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

However, Harrington managed to finish the first round under par, something that he had only done twice before in 13 Masters starts. That, if nothing else, is an encouraging sign.

Harrington still has a lot of work to do to catch up with the leaders, but he's yet another guy who is no stranger to Augusta National. Me missed the cut in both 2010 and 2011, but he finished in the top 10 three times between 2002 and 2008. 

Harrington will need to be more consistent to stay in the hunt, but for the moment, he can't be counted out. This already looks like a tournament that anybody can win.

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