Masters 2018: Jordan Spieth Holds 2-Stroke Lead After Round 1

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2018

Jordan Spieth hits a shot on the 17th hole during the first round at the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Jordan Spieth is in the driver's seat at the 2018 Masters Tournament after a run of five straight birdies helped him finish the first round with a score of 66.

Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau sit two strokes back in second place, with Finau excelling despite spraining his ankle Wednesday during the Par-3 Contest. With 15 players at two under or better after Thursday's action, though, it's clear this tournament is wide open.

Tiger Woods, competing in his first major since 2015, posted a 73 in his return to Augusta National Golf Club.

              

Round 1 Leaderboard

1. Jordan Spieth (-6)

T2. Tony Finau (-4)

T2. Matt Kuchar (-4)

T4. Rory McIlroy (-3)

T4. Henrik Stenson (-3)

T4. Adam Hadwin (-3)

T4. Charley Hoffman (-3)

T4. Patrick Reed (-3)

T4. Haotong Li (-3)

T4. Rafa Cabrera Bello (-3)

Full results available at Masters.com.

           

All eyes were on Woods, who was coming off two top-five finishes to become one of the biggest favorites to win the championship, per OddsShark.

He then excited fans with a birdie on the third hole:

That would be his only birdie for the first 13 holes, and he finished with four bogeys in his one-over round. While he normally dominates par fives, he ended up with pars on all four. Per ESPN Stats and Info, it was the first time he failed to birdie or eagle one of those holes in the first round in 15 years of playing at Augusta.

"I hit the ball better than my score indicates," the 14-time major winner said after the round, per Jason Sobel of Action Network.

While Woods gained the most attention, no one was better on the course than Spieth, who continued his success at Augusta early on with an eagle on the eighth hole:

This seemed to fuel him because he was unstoppable on the back nine, using five straight birdies to put him as low as seven under. This approach on 17 is about as good as it gets:

A bogey on 18 caused him to finish six strokes under par, but as Ben Coley of Sporting Life noted, Spieth has now led after nine of the 17 rounds he has played at this tournament.

Meanwhile, Finau became the biggest story of the day, as he was a question mark to even play the Masters after his celebration gone wrong Wednesday. However, this didn't seem to slow him down, as he posted six birdies on his way to a four-under 68. ESPN Stats and Info put his round into context:

As long as his ankle holds up, he has the talent to remain in contention for the rest of the week. 

More big names climbed up the leaderboards as the day continued, including the threesome of Matt Kuchar (-4), Phil Mickelson (-2) and Rickie Fowler (-2):

Kuchar was especially hot down the stretch, shooting a 31 on the back nine to put him in a tie for second place.

Rory McIlroy also put himself in good shape at three under thanks to some tough par saves on the last few holes.

Amateur Doug Ghim likely didn't make too many preview lists and ended up shooting a par 72 in Round 1, but he posted two eagles, including one of the best shots of the day on No. 18:

On the other end of the spectrum was defending champion Sergio Garcia, who had undoubtedly the worst hole of the day, posting a score of 13 on the 15th hole:

He finished in a tie for 85th at nine over. 

Garcia and the rest of the field will try to fare better in Round 2, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday.

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