Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka lead stampede on crowded Masters leaderboard

Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka lead stampede on crowded Masters leaderboard

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Heading into the 83rd Masters, much of the pre-tournament talk concerned the changes made to the fifth hole, primarily the lengthening of the par 4 from 445 to 495 yards.

Masters officials should consider another expansion – to the famous white leaderboards that loom over Augusta National Golf Club.

In Thursday’s first round, the workers operating the manual leaderboards didn’t have enough space to display all the front-runners, especially with so many charging to the 72nd hole late in the day.

And that stampede contained a lot of firepower, including Bryson DeChambeau, who electrified the patrons en route to a 6-under-par 66. DeChambeau was his own highlight reel as he birdied 15, came within an inch of acing 16 and made birdie, chipped in on 17 for birdie and nearly holed out from the fairway for eagle on 18 but tapped in for birdie.

Corey Conners talks about his first round what it was like to watch Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit the ceremonial tee shot at the Masters.
Golfweek, USA TODAY NETWORK

Rahm has gotten the better of Woods for a few months now. He beat his boyhood idol in their singles match in the Ryder Cup last fall and won the Hero World Challenge that benefits Woods’ foundation in December. And he was one shot better as the two played in the same group in the first round.

“I’m really confident out there,” Rahm said. “I didn’t have my best, I was a little shaky with the driver, I was able to keep it in the fairway for the better part today. My iron play also didn’t feel the best, but again I was able to manage it and hit some quality shots out there.

“But I think that the most important thing is I never lost patience. I kept my cool and I was able to make a great birdie on nine and get where I’m going.”

Playing in his 22nd Masters, Woods failed to break 70 for the 21st time, the lone exception coming in 2010 when he opened with a 68. But Woods was pleased with his round and the number 70.

“I felt like I played well, and I did all the things I needed to do today to post a good number,” the four-time Masters champion said. “I drove it well, hit some good iron shots, speed was good on the greens.

“I controlled my golf ball all day. I’ve shot this number and won (three) coats, so hopefully I can do it again.”

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