The defending champion shot a bogey-free, four-under 68, leaving him three photographs off the lead and really a lot in rivalry for a record-tying sixth title.
Woods’ scorching begin was a giant shock, contemplating the lacklustre kind he had proven coming into this pandemic-delayed match.
Then once more, Woods often performs effectively at Augusta regardless of the circumstances. Nineteen months in the past, he rallied on the ultimate day to win his fifteenth main title.
“It is simply expertise. It is simply understanding find out how to play this golf course,” Woods stated. “I’ve a way of ease once I come right here.”
It’s the first time Woods has performed the opening spherical at Augusta and not using a bogey, and solely the second time he has began the match by breaking 70. He matched a 68 within the opening spherical of the 2010 Masters.
Thursday’s opener was additionally the primary bogey-free spherical for Woods in a serious because the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
“I drove it effectively, I hit my irons effectively and I putted effectively,” Woods stated. “I did every little thing effectively right this moment.”
For 43-year-old Englishman Casey, it was a case of what a distinction a year-and-a-half makes.
In 2019 Casey shot 86 and 82 to badly miss the reduce. However he turned issues round in his return to Augusta Nationwide, which was delayed for seven months by the coronavirus pandemic.
Beginning on the again facet, Casey made 5 birdies and rolled in an eagle on the par-5 second gap to match his lowest rating ever on the Masters. He headed into the clubhouse with a two-shot lead over Thomas, Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele.
Casey has by no means received a serious title, however he is often a part of the combination at Augusta. He is had 5 top-10 finishes, together with his finest displaying being a tie for fourth in 2016.
“I’ve not performed significantly nice golf because the entire pandemic hit,” Casey stated. “I put in quite a lot of laborious work in a brief period of time and it paid off right this moment with the rating I shot.”
Marc Leishman and Lukas Michel had been the primary Australians again within the clubhouse, the previous’s spherical highlighted by an eagle on the thirteenth. He completed two-under – as did 2015 PGA Championship winner Jason Day – and can rue bogeys on the tenth and seventeenth, whereas beginner Michel completed four-over in his first spherical at Augusta.
Woods was one among 5 gamers to complete at four-under, alongside Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood.
Masters leaderboard, spherical one
- 1. Paul Casey (ENG) -7
- T2. Webb Simpson (USA) -5
- T2. Xander Schauffele (USA) -5
- T2. Justin Thomas (USA, 10) – 5
- T5. Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) -4
- T5. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) -4
- T5. Lee Westwood (ENG) -4
- T5. Patrick Reed (USA) -4
- T5. Matthew Wolff (USA, 11) -4
- T5. Adam Scott (AUS, 10) -4
- T5. Dylan Frittelli (RSA, 9) -4
- T21. Marc Leishman (AUS) -2
- T21. Jason Day (AUS) -2
- T51. Cameron Smith (AUS, 10) even par
- T85 Lukas Michel (AUS) +4
Jazz Janewattananond, Jon Rahm and Tony Finau are a shot additional again with US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau carding a two-under 70.
The fifth Australian within the area, Cameron Smith, was even par after 10 when his spherical got here to an early finish.
Regardless of this being a Masters like no different, with out paying spectators because of coronavirus considerations, a number of hundred members crowded the primary tee as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Participant hit the ceremonial tee photographs to start out the match in close to darkness.
AP, Reuters, SMH
Sports activities information, outcomes and knowledgeable commentary delivered straight to your inbox. Signal as much as the Herald‘s weekday e-newsletter right here and The Age‘s weekly e-newsletter right here.