When darkness halted play at 5:30 p.m. EST, there were 44 players still on the course and 48 who’d turned in complete scorecards, led by 43-year-old Englishman Paul Casey, with Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas (who only played 10 holes on Thursday) two strokes back. All told, there were 50 players in the red when the horn sounded at Thursday of the rescheduled Masters.
Casey took full advantage of a rain-softened course to fire 65 — an astounding 16 shots better than his opening round there in 2019.
Five-time and defending champion Tiger Woods dropped a turn-back-the-clock round of his own, relying more on experience than current form to post a 68.
Woods has been a non-factor in the majors since his electrifying 2019 Masters triumph and played just six events since golf’s return. He’s still battling nagging injuries and his best finish this season is a tie for 37th at the PGA Championship. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open in September.
Bryson DeChambeau spent enough time in the trees and azalea bushes looking for his golf ball that depending on when you tuned in, he might have been mistaken for a member of the landscaping crew.
For all that, DeChambeau showed grit and patience throughout, recovering from a 2-over start after four holes to a post a 2-under 70.
Round 1 resumes at 7:30 a.m. and don’t sleep on the stragglers. Besides Thomas, who ran off six birdies in those 10 holes, there are at least three other players with a chance to slip past Casey on the leaderboard.
In pursuit at 4 under are 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott (through 10), Matthew Wolff (through 11) and Dylan Frittelli (through nine). Lurking another shot back after his first nine holes is Dustin Johnson, the world No. 1 and second-favorite to DeChambeau in pre-tournament wagering.
Still to be determined is how much firmer the greens and the rest of the golf course will get. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures climbing to the upper 70s, but the green jackets can’t dictate the conditions of the course in autumn as precisely as they can in springtime.