Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau Share Lead After Round 1 of Masters 2019

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2019

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Brooks Koepka of the United States walks off the 13th green after making a birdie during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are tied for the lead in the 2019 Masters tournament after firing six-under 66s in Thursday's first round at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

Phil Mickelson stands alone in third place at five under, while Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson share fourth place at four under on the star-studded leaderboard.

Every player at four under or better took advantage of scoring conditions that were at their easiest over the final few hours of the round. Golfers who went out early were at a disadvantage. Augusta doesn't figure to get any simpler to navigate over the next three days with rain and thunderstorms in the weather forecast.

Adam Scott (-3), Jon Rahm (-3), Tiger Woods (-2), Rickie Fowler (-2) and Jason Day (-2) headline the other notable scores following Thursday's action.

Koepka has seemingly perfected the art of rising to the occasion on the sport's biggest stages.

The 28-year-old Florida native has five career wins on the PGA Tour, and three of them are major titles. He captured the U.S. Open and PGA Championship last year after securing his big breakthrough with a triumph in the 2017 U.S. Open.

He caught fire on the back nine Thursday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch to skyrocket to the top of the leaderboard.

DeChambeau, 25, birdied each of his final four holes to grab a share of the lead, and he almost finished with an even bigger flourish as he nearly aced No. 16 and hit the flag stick with his approach on No. 18.

The SMU product has five PGA Tour wins on his resume, including four from the 2018 season, but he's still looking for his first top-10 finish in a major. His ball-striking display in the first round suggests that's a distinct possibility this week, and it might even put him in Sunday contention.

Meanwhile, Mickelson stood on the 12th tee at even par before using those prime scoring conditions to his favor with five birdies over the last seven holes.

Woods held a share of the top spot for a portion of the opening round. His potentially memorable day was undone by a series of missed short putts, though. His problems on the greens overshadowed one of the best driving days the 14-time major champion has enjoyed since his return from back injuries last year.

"Overall it was a good, solid day," he told Sky Sports (via Yahoo Sports). "I grinded my way around the golf course, tried to take care of the par fives when I could, and other than that I just tried to stay mistake-free. It's hard to do out here; it's really hard to avoid bogeys. I made two today."

Tiger can take solace in the fact that three of his four Masters victories came after shooting 70 in Round 1.

Here's a look at some other highlights from the Masters' first round:

Friday is likely going to feature drama right down to the final holes. Not only are numerous players within striking distance of the lead, but the tightly packed first day created a situation in which a lot of notable names will probably be hanging around the cut line all afternoon.

In addition, merely making the cut could be enough to keep a golfer in title contention unless somebody goes super-low in Round 2. So, storylines abound in the season's first major.

Related

    Gary Woodland Wins U.S. Open 🏆

    Woodland (-12) edges defending champ Koepka to win first career major

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Gary Woodland Wins U.S. Open 🏆

    Woodland (-12) edges defending champ Koepka to win first career major

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Woods Finishes -2 at US Open with Final-Round 69

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Woods Finishes -2 at US Open with Final-Round 69

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    McIlroy Cards Final-Round 72, Finishes 5-Under at US Open

    Golf logo
    Golf

    McIlroy Cards Final-Round 72, Finishes 5-Under at US Open

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Spieth Shoots 76 to Cap Off Disappointing US Open

    Golf logo
    Golf

    Spieth Shoots 76 to Cap Off Disappointing US Open

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report