Gilford beefs up his game

60th US MASTERS: The cattle farmer from Crewe has a round of 69 but Phil Mickelson leads. Tim Glover reports from Augusta
Click to follow
The Independent Online
On a decibel level, David Gilford barely registers and yesterday he let his golf do the talking to appear on the leaderboard after the first round of the 60th Masters. The man from Crewe, who finished joint 24th on his debut here last year, shot 69 in a round of highs and lows that was extraordinary even by Augusta National's standards.

Gilford, who tends a herd of 40 Hereford cattle (no BSE but their value has plummeted), led briefly here 12 months ago and yesterday he was in splended isolation at four under par when he walked to the 16th tee. The 16th is a classic par three of 170 yards, 160 of which are over water. Gilford chose a 6-iron and there was little wrong with his selection of club.

The ball arced through the pale blue sky and came to rest about 30 feet short of the flag. The trouble is the hole had been cut back right of the green and Gilford's first putt lost momentum as it tried to negotiate the slope. The ball, which for a moment seemed to come to rest two feet from the hole, rolled back down the hill and the Englishman could only stand and watch as it gained pace. He was now 10 feet further from the hole than he was in the first place.

Gilford, having learnt his lesson, put more beef into his next putt and the ball finished four feet above the flag. He missed and finally walked off the hole called Redbud with a four-putt double-bogey five. Mad putting disease afflicts many golfers at Augusta National but to his credit Gilford did not appear to let the experience rattle him.

At the 17th he hit a beautiful 9-iron approach shot to within four feet and rolled in the putt for a birdie three, which got him back to three under par for the round. If the 16th had been cruel to Gilford, the par five 13th, which goes by the name of Azalea, was generous to a fault. The hole measures 485 yards and after hitting a cracking drive Gilford had 185 yards to the pin.

The green is protected by a stream in front and a battery of bunkers behind and the dilemma facing every player is whether to go for it or lay up short of the water. Gilford went for it with a 3-iron, the ball finished 10 feet from the hole and he knocked in the putt for an eagle three, thank you very much, at the last leg of the trinity of holes known as Amen Corner. Lucky 13. If that appeared to be perfect way, appearances can be deceptive.

The Crewe cowboy actually mishit the 3-iron. Had he played the shot as he intended he would have gone through the green. "It was a combination of too much club and a poor shot," Gilford admitted. Gilford also had a stroke of luck at the second, where he pulled his approach shot left and his ball struck a spectator and rebounded to the edge of the green. Two putts gave him a birdie four and he also birdied the third.

Gilford said he was better prepared for this tournament than at any other. Asked if he could win the Masters, Gilford whispered in the affirmative. "I like the course," he said, "and that's always an advantage. I don't think the greens are too severe. It's a challenging course and the punishment for a bad shot can be brutal."

As Bob Tway remarked, after coming home in 31 in a five under par 67, it was a "beautiful morning for golf." There were no clouds on the horizon and no wind to disturb the azaleas in their beds. Even so, Tway's round was surprising on account of his poor record at Augusta National. His last appearance here was in 1991 when he missed the halfway cut. "I've been watching the tournament on television," the 36-year-old from Oklahoma said, "and maybe I learned something from that."

Tway got his first birdie at the eighth and had a stunning back nine with five birdies, three of them on Amen Corner. "I wasn't struggling to make par and that's important out here," he said. Tway is two strokes behind Phil Mickelson, who was even hotter on the back nine, coming home in 30 in a round of 65, seven under.

John Daly, the Open champion who was paired with the former Masters champion Nick Faldo, sliced his drive so far right off the first tee he nearly ended up in the parking lot. Daly's ball sailed through a forest of pines but when he hit his second back through, the ball clattered into one of the pines and travelled no more than 20 yards. Then the former Wild Thing hit a brilliant third shot to with four feet of the flag and made the putt to save par. Faldo, who was 75 yards behind Daly with his drive, at least found the fairway and he too made par.

Daly capitalised with three birdies in five holes and Faldo also picked up shots with birdies on the third and eighth.

EARLY FIRST-ROUND SCORES

US unless stated;

* denotes amateur

65

P Mickelson

67

B Tway

68

L Janzen

69

D Gilford (GB), B Faxon

70

P Azinger, S McCarron

71

T Aaron, J Maggert, F Nobilio (NZ), N Price (Zim)

72

T Tryba

73

S Ballesteros (Sp)

74

D A Weibring, J Sluman

75

G Brewer, B Casper, T Kite

76

K Triplett, E Dougherty, N Lancaster; T Herron, B Henninger

78

B Bryant, M McCumber

81

D Ford

82

C Coody

Withdrew: P Jacobsen

Still on course:

D Waldorf, S Stricker

S Hoch, P Stankowski

R Floyd, D Frost (SA)

J Gallagher Jnr, B Mayfair

G Player (SA), C Wollman

W Austin, M Brooks

B Glasson, B Estes

L Mize, C ROCCA (It)

S LYLE (GB), K Perry

M Calcavecchia, J Huston

F Funk, P Goydos

T Watson, S Elkington (Aus)

B Crenshaw, *T Woods

N FALDO (GB), J Daly

B LANGER (Ger), *J Courville Jnr

J Nicklaus, M Campbell (NZ)

J Haas, T Lehman

C Strange, S Simpson

D Love III, C MONTGOMERIE (GB)

F Couples, *G SHERRY (GB)

C Pavin, V Singh (Fiji)

P Stewart, M O'Meara

F Zoeller, G Norman (Aus)

I WOOSNAM (GB), A CEJKA (Ger)

C Stadler, E Els (SA)

H Irwin, M Ozaki (Japan)

J Leonard, D Duval

L Roberts, S Higashi (Jap)

D Edwards, J Furyk

Comments