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5 things we learned on Day 1 at the Masters


Nine months after the Open Championship ended at Royal Liverpool, major championship golf finally returned Thursday with the opening round of the Masters.

The clouds cleared following a 150-minute weather delay, and 59 of 89 players were able to finish their rounds before darkness halted play.

Here are five things we learned from Augusta National.

Bryson is making major progress

We all laughed - repeatedly - after Bryson DeChambeau declared Augusta National a par 67 for him in 2020. Not only had the 30-year-old failed to break that number in every Masters since, but his last six rounds have come with an inflated scoring average of 75.6. That changed in a big way Thursday, as DeChambeau roared out of the gates with three straight birdies to begin the event. By the time the dust cleared, DeChambeau had recorded a 7-under 65 to grab the lead and match his lowest round ever in a major championship.

The display was astounding given DeChambeau's previous showings on the course. He's often looked lost trying to navigate Augusta's subtleties, as it's a layout that exposes anyone who simply tries to overpower it.

Whether DeChambeau can continue his sterling play at a place that's previously given him fit remains to be seen, but he at least showed evidence Thursday that he's more than willing to utilize a new approach.

Scottie's on cruise control

Andrew Redington / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It's impossible to make golf look easier than Scottie Scheffler did Thursday. Despite swirling winds and increasingly firmer conditions, the World No. 1 was rarely bothered in shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66. Perhaps the only time Scheffler found himself in danger was when he found the bunker on No. 12 - a situation he immediately extricated himself from by holing out for birdie.

Scheffler's five weeks have featured a runaway win at Bay Hill, an incredible comeback victory at the Players, and a second-place showing in Houston by one stroke. He entered the tournament as the biggest favorite since Tiger Woods in 2013 and showed throughout his round why that was the case. At this point, it'd be a stunning development if Scheffler wasn't fully in the thick of things come Sunday afternoon.

Rory was good, needs to be great

Rory McIlroy finally broke par in the first round of the Masters but still left his supporters feeling fairly "meh." McIlroy has recently been undone by poor opening rounds, with Thursday's 71 the first time he's broken par on Day 1 since 2018. However, he's undoubtedly walking away rueing some missed chances on the par 5s, which left him six shots behind DeChambeau.

McIlroy entered play Thursday with an overall score of 94-under in his career on the par 5s at Augusta and 67-over on the remaining 14 holes. His par-5 woes began on the second hole, with an errant drive and misplaced wedge leading to a disappointing bogey. While he was able to birdie the 8th, the World No. 2 couldn't manage better than par on Nos. 13 and 15.

Cautious optimism for Tiger

Warren Little / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The last time we saw Tiger Woods on the golf course, he was exiting the eighth hole at Riviera in a golf cart as he withdrew from the Genesis Invitational. The last time we saw the five-time champion at the Masters, he was withdrawing due to foot issues. Simply put, Woods hasn't been involved in many positive scenes on a golf course in the last year. Thankfully, that wasn't the case Thursday as the 48-year-old offered plenty of reason for cautious optimism with some strong play.

Woods opened the day with a birdie on the first hole of Round 1 for the first time since 1999 and played textbook, cerebral golf that saw him sit 1-under on the 14th tee when play was halted for the day due to darkness. Now comes the real test, as Woods faces the daunting task of playing 23 holes Friday on short rest. Should he complete that in good standing, he'll set yet another Masters record with his 24th straight made cut in the event.

Defending is hard

For his opening nine holes Thursday, it looked as though the Champions Dinner could be Spanish cuisine once again. Jon Rahm picked up where he left off from last year's win with a two-under 34 on the first nine holes to make the turn near the top of the leaderboard. However, Rahm unraveled on the second nine, with three bogeys on his final four holes seeing him finish with a one-over 73.

Rahm's struggles continued a recent Masters trend. The Spaniard became the sixth defending champion to shoot over par in the last eight tournaments at Augusta National. While Rahm was able to chase down Brooks Koepka in last year's event, it'll be tough to do the same this year with DeChambeau already eight shots ahead.

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