Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott do battle with the bogeys at Augusta - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott do battle with the bogeys at Augusta

Pair pleased to be in red numbers at the end of the opening day

augusta national

If not quite the Adam and Rory show, the opening day of the Masters gave a hint of broadcast nirvana in the absence of the game's biggest draw. Defending champion Adam Scott and pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy took prominent places on the leaderboard to suggest there might yet be gold in a Tiger-free weekend.

That jacket is not coming off without a fight. Scott said in his best bluff Australian that he would not be cowed by the data. That only three players have retained the green jacket in 80 years was nothing to him. He liked the sound of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo and Adam Scott.

Were it not for a rinsed ball in Rae's Creek at 12, Scott would have been clean away on an opening day that looked benign yet bit so hard. His 69 was consolation enough leaving him alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson just one behind leader Bill Haas, the only players to break 70.

The Biblical rains of Monday left no trace. A hot sun and drying wind made marble of greens that threaten to get even quicker as the week goes on. Rory McIlroy took Augusta National apart off the tee but left the greens begging for mercy. Three putts at eight, 12 and the last for a 71 were classic counter punches by a course that demands patience and respect. 

With each passing year this tournament acquires a layer of stately grandeur, provided in no small part by the ceremonial tee shots struck by golf's venerable threesome Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. This is becoming as much a part of the Masters 'construction' as the azaleas, dogwoods and Amen Corner, so grand in fact it drew the great All Black stand-off Dan Carter to the party beneath the clubhouse oak.

Five minutes later at 7.45am Stewart Cink and Tim Clark split the chill morning air to get the tournament under way. What a sight they presented, climbing the steep fairway that held their tee shots, the unfeasibly green expanse more carpet than grass beneath a crystal sky.

The appearance of Scott alongside Sheffield's US Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick was the set-piece of the day after the golden three-ball at dawn. It must be both honour and torment to walk on to that tee box for the first time alongside the Masters champion.

Nerves added a few feet per second to Scott's swing. Fitzpatrick went at it as if swatting a fly. The result was an ugly hook on to the neighbouring ninth fairway. Like a first date, it was one just to get out of the way. The double bogey was unfortunate but he settled with a birdie at the next to get him into his round.

And then came McIlroy, utterly imperious off the tee, smashing the ball alongside the furthest bunker on the first, beyond the trap on the second and almost to the green on the 350-yard third. Having already been Tiger proofed, McIlroy's monstrous hitting suggested new amendments might be required to contain him. Extending the course across the Savanagh River into South Carolina perhaps?

In the event he tamed himself with poor approaches at the opening two holes, requiring an exquisite chip to ensure par at the first. A birdie at the third fired a gallery that included Jamie Redknapp, Will Greenwood and Ant and Dec. Perhaps they were researching challenges for the jungle.

Posting a birdie at the fifth might be one. McIlroy managed it, this time matching approach with tee shot to land the ball on a ridge 12 feet from the hole. He practically teased the putt home, hitting with just enough pace to squeeze in the cup via the side door.    

Matt Kuchar once described Augusta as either the easiest hard course or the hardest easy course, depending on how a player is swinging. McIlroy made it both. From a position of strength he gave back silly bogeys at the par-5 eighth, the short 12th. His face was as red as his fiance's dyed hair picking the ball out of the hole and dumping it straight in Rae's Creek.

Knocking over the par-5s is central to the prospects of any this week. Having failed miserably to make any capital of his stellar drive at the second and fluffed the eighth, McIlroy redressed the balance at 13 and 15 with tap-in birdies at both. The bogey at the 18th was unfortunate but better, perhaps, that it comes on the first day rather than the last.

“I think that they set the course up very difficult today,” McIlroy said. “Some of the pin positions were tough to get close to. For the most part I felt like I put my ball in the positions they needed to be. I was taking two putts and getting out of there. The greens are firming up. The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score.”

Scott answered the catastrophe at 12 with a birdie the 14th. There might have been more at 15 and 17, but like McIlroy, he was pleased to be in red numbers. “Getting off to a good start in a major is huge, because they are the hardest tournaments to chase. Birdies aren't that easy to come by and if you're six back, five back, ten back after the first round, it's a hard three days in front of you.”

After starting with a bogey Haas made best use of the early conditions to edge ahead with a birdie at the last. His great uncle, Bob Goalby, won here in 1968 and his father Jay went close in 1995, a memory that is feeding his desire to deliver another green jacket to the family vault.

Of the father and son contesting the same Masters, Kevin Stadler closed in a tie for third with a 70, a full 12 shots better than Craig. Mind you, dad is 60. The highest-score-at-one-hole prize went to Jason Dufner for a quadruple-bogey nine at the 13th.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week