By the time Dustin Johnson’s tee time came around, he had already spent Thursday morning trying to see if his back would allow him to play in The Masters. Then, just minutes before he was to tee off, Johnson withdrew due to his freak injury from slipping on stairs.
“It’s unbelievably difficult,” Johnson said. This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I feel like I’m playing the best golf in my career right now. For me to pull out, it sucks really bad. I’m very sad that I have to do it, but it’s just a freak accident. I’ve wanted to play, I’ve wanted to try and play–it’s just–I’m not going to be able to compete like this.”
Just a real shame, especially since Johnson said he thinks all he needs is a few more days. He’s now the fourth No. 1 player ever to withdraw from a major due to injury, joining Greg Norman, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy.
For most of Round 1 in Augusta, winds were mercilessly pounding the course at 40 miles an hour where even 5-foot putts were not a sure thing, and shots were flying all over the place. Whether it was the wind or something else, some of Rory McIlroy’s shots were off the mark pretty badly, but he did manage an even-par overall.
Thomas Pieters was 4-under on the 12th and then his tee shot fell short by 30 yards into the water. Jason Day’s shot did the same on No. 11 when his second shot went wayward with the wind.
Jordan Spieth, with the specter of last year’s collapse surely swirling around him, was doing okay until the 15th when it got bad in a hurry. Spieth ended up quadruple-bogeying the par-5 hole, which he did on last year’s par-3 12th in the final round. He will start Round 2 tied for 41st at 3-over.
He’s nowhere near out of it, but Spieth definitely needs to get going soon.
It really looked like being two or three shots over was actually going to be a pretty good day. Then Charley Hoffman got going over his final 11 holes for the day.
Hoffman was even through seven with a couple birdies and bogeys. Then he got consecutive birdies on the 8th and 9th holes on a day when they were pretty hard to come by. After another birdie on the 12th, Hoffman closed his Round 1 with four-straight and a par.
“[The day] didn’t start off the way I really anticipated,” Hoffman said after his fantastic performance. “I had a couple pars early and then a 3-putt on three and another 3-putt on five, so it was a little slow going. After that, I can’t remember missing a putt. Everything was going in, I had good numbers, good looks at it, was in the right spots and was able to make some birdies.”
Highlights from Charley Hoffman's opening 65: pic.twitter.com/ARjR4aMSL7
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 7, 2017
He ended the day with a 7-under 65 behind nine birdies, seriously impressive considering the ridiculous winds everyone had to play through. William McGirt had a strong outing as well, shooting a 3-under 69 for second place on the leaderboard. Lee Westwood will begin Friday in third at 2-under.
With winds expected to be just as unforgiving on Friday, anything can still happen.
For now, Hoffman’s four-shot Round 1 lead is the largest in 62 years at The Masters. This on a day where only 11 players broke par.
h/t: espn.com, pgatour.com