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© Reuters. The Masters

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By Andrew Each

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Defending champion Tiger Woods tied his best-ever opening spherical on the Masters and was three photographs behind clubhouse chief Paul Casey on Thursday earlier than play was suspended at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership because of darkness.

5-times Masters champion Woods, who had struggled for kind in 2020, instantly seemed revived and in command on his acquainted Augusta Nationwide stomping floor as he carded a four-under-par 68.

“It was good throughout,” Woods stated after his first bogey-free begin in 23 Masters look. “I drove it nicely, hit my irons nicely and putted nicely. There’s actually nothing, wanting again on it, that I might have finished a bit of bit higher.”

A close to three-hour delay because of lightning and rain pressured gamers off the course 25 minutes after the primary teams teed off and ended any hope of finishing first-round motion on Thursday given the decreased November daylight.

Woods, whose defence of his fifth Inexperienced Jacket was already placed on maintain for seven months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, started on the again 9 three hours later than scheduled however appeared unbothered as he birdied the thirteenth and fifteenth holes.

He practically aced the par-three sixteenth the place he walked off the inexperienced with a well-known swagger after tapping in from two toes for birdie, delivered a modest fist pump after a birdie on the par-four first and closed with a string of pars.

Englishman Casey, who has one top-five end in 13 Masters appearances and missed the minimize final 12 months, eagled the par-five second gap, his eleventh, en path to a seven-under-par 65 that left him two photographs away from Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Englishman Lee Westwood, South African Louis Oosthuizen and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed have been within the clubhouse an extra shot again in a gaggle with Woods.

“I did the precise issues once I wanted to,” Casey stated. “You hardly ever stroll off this golf course going, it might have been two or three higher, nevertheless it form of felt that means. I do not need to be grasping. I am very, very proud of my 65.”

DECHAMBEAU STUMBLES

Match favorite Bryson DeChambeau, who overpowered Winged Foot together with his driver in September’s U.S. Open to win his first main, started on the again 9 and bumped into hassle on the par-five thirteenth the place he carded a double-bogey.

The world quantity six responded with consecutive birdies beginning on the par-five fifteenth and, after failing to rise up and down for par from 18 yards on the seventh, closed his spherical with two consecutive birdies for a gap two-under-par 70.

“This golf course, as a lot as I am making an attempt to assault it, it could possibly chunk again,” stated DeChambeau. “I attempted to tackle some threat in the present day. It did not work out in addition to I believed it will have, however on the finish of the day I am happy with myself the way in which I dealt with myself and completed off.”

Among the many notable late starters unable to finish their rounds have been world primary Dustin Johnson, No. 3 Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, who wants a win this week to finish the profession Grand Slam of golf’s 4 majors.

Thomas started with three consecutive birdies and was five-under by way of 10 holes, Johnson was three beneath after 9 and his enjoying accomplice McIlroy was at even par.

The Masters, sometimes performed in early April, is using threesomes and sending golfers off each the primary and tenth holes over the primary two rounds for the primary time.

Regardless of this being a Masters like no different, with out paying spectators because of coronavirus considerations, a number of hundred members crowded the primary tee as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Participant hit the ceremonial tee photographs to start out the event in close to darkness.

Opening spherical play will resume on Friday at 7:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

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