A pair of 25/1 longshots share the lead after the Masters’ first round, Thursday at Augusta National. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka each shot 6-under-par 66 to grab the opening round lead. Phil Mickelson, who went off at 40/1, shot 67 and is a stroke behind.
The favorites didn’t fare as well as expected. Rory McIlroy, who was the top pick at 7/1, shot a 1-over 73, and is seven shots back. The Irishman, who needs to win this event to complete the career grand slam, was obviously disappointed.
“I thought the course was there,” McIlroy said. “It’s soft and there’s not much wind. I made five birdies. That wasn’t the problem. I just made too many mistakes. That was the problem.”
Dustin Johnson, who was the next pick at 10/1, did much better. He shot a 68 and is two back. Justin Rose, who was at 12/1, shot a 75.
Tiger Woods, who is 14/1, and chasing his first major win since the 2008 US Open, was tied for the lead briefly, but made bogey on 17 and finished at 70.
Still he was pleased with his opening round.
“I feel like I played well today,” Woods said. “I controlled my golf ball all day. I’ve shot this number and won four coats, so hopefully I can do it again.”
Koepka Top of Betting Board
Jeff Sherman at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted adjusted odds to win the tournament and has Koepka the new favorite at 9/2. The three-time major championship winner is chasing his first green jacket. The way he played on Thursday should not give his competitors a comforting feeling.
“I knew I was going to be ready for this week,” Koepka said. “That was probably the best ball-striking round I’ve had in a major championship.”
Johnson is next at 6/1, followed by first-round co-leader DeChambeau at 13/2. DeChambeau missed a couple of chances, and also said he caught a few bad breaks.
“I was just looking to shoot something in the 60s this week because I haven’t done that yet in my couple times playing here,” DeChambeau said. “What a magical back nine. I was being patient on the front nine, hitting a lot of quality shots, but I just wasn’t being rewarded.”
Mickelson Comes Out Firing
Phil Mickelson, who began at 40/1, and is now at 12/1, shot an opening round 67, his best round since 2010. The 48-year-old, who is two years shy of qualifying for the PGA Tour Champions, said he enjoyed himself at Augusta National.
“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” Mickelson said. “And it’s fun to finish off the round. It’s fun to make a good par save on 17 and birdie the last. It’s fun to finish a good round off rather than leak one here or there coming in. So it was a good day.”
Mickelson owns three green jackets, but his last one came in 2010.