Masters First Round News & Notes

Masters First Round News & Notes

Masters First Round News & Notes
April 5th, 2007

Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Most veteran players come to Augusta National a week or so ahead of time to get a feel for the course. Phil Mickelson, who owns two green jackets, has been stalking the premises for over a week already.

Then there is first-timer Brett Quigley. He got into the field this week thanks to his finish in the top-40 on the PGA Tour money list last year.

During Tuesday's practice round, the beeper he was carrying went off. That meant his wife had gone into labor and it was time to return home.

Quigley walked off the course and quickly returned to Jupiter, Florida to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Lillian Sage Augusta Quigley was born in the wee hours Wednesday morning.

The 37-year-old Quigley was able to return to Augusta in plenty of time for his 2:03 p.m. tee time Thursday.

The lack of practice, and most certainly a lack of sleep, caught up with Quigley quickly as he bogeyed the par-four first. He stumbled to back-to-back bogeys from the fifth, but steady himself with seven straight pars from there.

He finally notched a birdie on the par-five 15th as he got up and down from over the green. He closed his round with a bogey on 16 and pars on the final two holes to shoot a four-over 76, where is he tied for 43rd place.

THE OTHER HOWELL SHINES

Coming into the week, there was plenty of talk about Augusta native Charles Howell III. The talk was well warranted thanks to a win and two runner-up finishes for the 27-year-old.

The other Howell, as in England's David Howell, made it be known that he is fully healthy. Despite two wins on the European Tour's '06 calendar, Howell was bothered my injuries late in the season.

Turn the calendar to '07 and Howell has had trouble finding his rhythm. He has made the cut in all four starts on the PGA Tour, but has finished no better than tied for 29th (Nissan Open).

Howell has now shot par or better in the opening round in his first three starts at Augusta. He has improved each round as well.

The Englishman carded an even-par 72 in his first official round at Augusta in 2005. The following year Howell opened with a one-under 71 and today his 70 puts him in a tie for third with 2001 PGA champion David Toms. Howell has notched two top-20 finishes in his first two appearances - tied for 11th in '05 and tied for 19th last year.

FIRST-TIMERS AND AMATEURS


The 2007 Masters has 18 first-time participants, five of whom are amateurs. Co-leader Brett Wetterich leads that group at three-under-par 69.

The only other first-timer to break par was J.J. Henry (71), while Jeev Milkha Singh carded an even-par 72.

U.S. Amateur champion Richie Ramsay was the low amateur Thursday as he opened with a four-over 76. John Kelly, runner-up to Ramsay at the Amateur, is one stroke further back at plus-five.

Casey Watabu, the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, struggled to the worst score among amateurs and first-timers with a 15-over-par 87.

Among the first-time professionals Hideto Tanihara carded the worst score with his 13-over-par 85. He is in 94th place.

MIZE STRUGGLES

Twenty years after a miraculous chip-in birdie propelled him to victory, Larry Mize came to Augusta National as a part-time PGA Tour player who will play most of the season on the Nationwide Tour.

Nothing wrong with the Nationwide Tour, which has produced some 200 future PGA Tour winners, but Mize's game is clearly nowhere near where it once was.

Mize missed 10 cuts in 18 starts last year, with his second-best finish coming at The Masters where he tied for 24th. This year, Mize shared ninth place in Mexico, but missed the cut in his other two PGA Tour starts.

In his lone start on the Nationwide Tour, Mize tied for 30th after opening with a five-under 66.

The 48-year-old Mize struggled mightily in the first round with an 11-over-par 83. Of the former champions in the field, Mize and Gary Player are tied 89th place, with only Seve Ballesteros (86) posting a worse scoring by a former winners.

"My short game was horrendous today," Mize admitted. "I didn't putt very well and didn't chip very well. I didn't bring a short game with me today. I made a lot of mental mistakes."

MASTERS TIDBITS

- Tiger Woods bogeyed his final two holes to shoot a one-over 73 Thursday. In his career at Augusta, he is a cumulative plus-nine in the opening round. The other three rounds, he has combined to shoot 63-under par.

- Several Champions Tour players are in the field this week as former winners at Augusta. Craig Stadler and Fuzzy Zoeller were holding their own on the leaderboard for good chunks of time Thursday. However, they combined to shoot plus-five on the back nine. They both ended with rounds of two-over-par 74.

- The par-five eighth played as the easiest hole in round one. It played to an average of 4.8021 with 28 birdies, seven bogeys and one double-bogey.

- The 505-yard par-four 11th played as the most difficult hole on Thursday. Eleven played to an average of 4.5417 with 4 birdies, 38 bogeys, seven double- bogeys and one dreaded other.

- Ian Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champion, withdrew on Thursday due to a back injury.

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