Jordan Spieth 66 (-6)
Tony Finau 68 (-4)
Matt Kuchar 68 (-4)
Henrik Stenson 69 (-3)
Patrick Reed 69 (-3)
Charley Hoffman 69 (-3)
Adam Hadwin 69 (-3)
Haotong Li 69 (-3)
Rory McIlroy 69 (-3)
Rafa Cabrera Bello 69 (-3)
After five consecutive birdies on holes 13-17, Jordan Spieth posted a final-hole bogey for a 6-under 66 to lead the 2018 Masters Tournament.
This is the eighth time Spieth has held the first-round lead/co-lead on the PGA TOUR, most recently at The Open Championship in 2017, which he went on to win. It’s also the third time Spieth has held the solo lead after the opening round at the Masters.
2017 Open Championship Won
2017 Travelers Championship Won
2015 Fort Worth Invitational T2
2014 BMW Championship T8
2014 Sentry Tournament of Champions 2nd
Spieth is seeking his fourth major championship crown in his 21st major start (2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open, 2017 U.S. Open).
The 2015 FedExCup champion is making his fifth start at the Masters Tournament; 2014 (T2), 2015 (1st), 2016 (T2), 2017 (T11).
Spieth is looking for his 12th career PGA TOUR win and first of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season after three victories last season (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Travelers Championship, The Open Championship).
Spieth finished T3 at 16-under, three strokes out of a playoff at last week’s Houston Open.
First-Round Lead Notes
The first-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win the Masters Tournament 16 times in the previous 81 events. Trevor Immelman (2008) and Jordan Spieth (2015) are the only players since 1985 to carry the first-round lead/co-lead on to victory.
Eight of the last 10 winners of the Masters have opened with a round in the 60s. Last year, Sergio Garcia opened with a 1-under 71, while Danny Willett opened with a 2-under 70 in 2016. Since 2000, the only eventual winner of the Masters to shoot an over-par opening round is Tiger Woods (74/2005).
The last 12 Masters winners have been in the top 10 after round one. Last year, Sergio Garcia was T4 after opening with a 1-under 71. The worst first-round position by an eventual champion was Tiger Woods (T33/2005 – won via playoff).
A day after suffering a high-ankle sprain while celebrating a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest, Tony Finau fired six birdies and two bogeys for a 4-under 68 in his Masters debut. Finau underwent an MRI Thursday morning before teeing off in the afternoon.
Finau has a lone top-10 showing in seven previous major championship appearances – a T10 at the 2015 PGA Championship.
Finau’s only PGA TOUR win came in a playoff over Steve Marino at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. This season, he has two runner-up results in 12 starts (2nd/Safeway Open, T2/Genesis Open).
With an opening-round 4-under 68, Matt Kuchar sits T2. He’s posted four top-10s in 11 starts at the Masters (T4/2017, T5/2014, T8/2013, T3/2012).
Kuchar’s final-round 67 to finish T4 at last year’s Masters remains his lowest round at Augusta National Golf Club (43 rounds).
Kuchar is making his 10th PGA TOUR start this season. In nine previous starts, he has made every cut and comes to the Masters off consecutive top-10 finishes (T9/WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, T8/Houston Open).
Last year, Kuchar was one of 13 players to make the cut in each of the four major championships, finishing a second-best total of 20-under-par (Brooks Koepka/21-under, Hideki Matsuyama/20-under). Kuchar posted three top-10s in majors last year (T4/Masters, T16/U.S. Open, 2nd/Open Championship, T9/PGA Championship).
Additional Player Notes
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson celebrated his 42nd birthday by shooting a sub-70 opening round for the first time at Augusta National. His 3-under 69 in is 13th appearance also marks Stenson’s fourth sub-70 round in 41 trips around Augusta National. His three previous sub-70 rounds all came in the final round (69/2016, 68/2015, 69/2013).
Stenson is making his 13th consecutive start in the Masters, where he has yet to record a top-10 finish. A T14 in 2014 is his best showing.
Stenson has three top-10 finishes in four starts on the PGA TOUR this season; WGC-HSBC Champions (T2), Valspar Championship (MC), Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (4th) and Houston Open (T6).
With six wins, Stenson owns the most victories on the PGA TOUR by a player from Sweden. No player from Sweden has ever won the Masters. Stenson claimed his first major championship title (and the first by a Swedish male) at the 2016 Open Championship. His four-round total at Troon (20-under 264) is the low 72-hole total in a major championship.
This marks Stenson’s 47th major championship appearance. In 46 previous appearances, he’s collected 11 top-10 finishes (five of those have come at the PGA Championship).
At 42, Stenson is seeking to become the seventh player in his 40s to win the Masters;
Jack Nicklaus (46), 1986
Ben Crenshaw (43), 1995
Gary Player (42), 1978
Sam Snead (41), 1954
Mark O’Meara (41), 1998
Ben Hogan (40), 1953
Patrick Reed’s opening-round 3-under 69 marks his lowest round at Augusta National Golf Club. In four previous appearances at the Masters, Reed’s best score was 2-under 70 (twice, R1 and R4 in 2015). A T22 finish for Reed in 2015 is his best showing in four starts (MC/2017, T49/2016, T22/2015, MC/2014).
Reed comes to the Masters with three consecutive top-10 results on the PGA TOUR this season – T2/Valspar Championship, T7/Arnold Palmer Invitational, T9/WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
For the fourth consecutive year, Charley Hoffman opened the Masters with a sub-par round (69/2018, 65/2017, 71/2016, 67/2015).
In 2017, Hoffman’s opening-round, 7-under 65 was good for a four-shot lead over William McGirt.
Hoffman owns one top-10 result in four previous appearances at the Masters (T22/2017, T29/2016, T9/2015, T27/2011).
Canada’s Adam Hadwin mixed five birdies with two bogeys for a 3-under 69. In his only previous appearance at the Masters, Hadwin notched rounds of 75-74-75-70 to finish T36 in 2017, also his best showing in six previous starts in major championships.
Hadwin, who finished No. 26 in the FedExCup last season and earned a spot in the field this week by reaching the 2017 TOUR Championship, is seeking to join Mike Weir as a Canadian winner of the Masters.
In his Masters debut, China’s Haotong Li made five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, including three consecutive through ‘Amen Corner’ (Nos. 11-13), to fire an opening-round 3-under 69.
As a 21-year-old, Li shot a final-round 63 at Royal Birkdale last year to finish T3 at The Open Championship, earning a spot in the 2018 Masters.
Li, the 2014 PGA TOUR China Player of the Year, won three times during the inaugural PGA TOUR China season and moved on to the Web.com Tour. He played a full season on the 2015 Web.com Tour (best finish a tie for 11th) and maintained his playing privileges for 2016. He began 2016 on the Web.com Tour, but then he won the 2016 Volvo China Open, giving him full European Tour status for the remainder of that year.
Li won the 2018 Dubai Desert Classic for his second European Tour victory. He birdied his final two holes at Emirates Golf Club to beat Rory McIlroy by one stroke. With the win, Li became the first player from China to move inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Li has made 12 cuts in 16 appearances on the PGA TOUR. At the 2018 Genesis Open, while playing on a sponsor exemption, Li met tournament host Tiger Woods for the first time. Later that week, Li aced the par-3 6th hole at Riviera for his first hole-in-one.
Rory McIlroy, the 2016 FedExCup champion, sits T4 after a 3-under 69 while making his 10th consecutive start in the Masters, where he has four top-10s in his last four starts: 2014 (T8), 2015 (4th), 2016 (T10) and 2017 (T7).
McIlroy is making his 37th start in a major (16 top-10 finishes).
The winner of the 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship and 2014 Open Championship, McIlroy looks to complete the career grand slam. With a victory at the Masters this week, McIlroy would join five players who have won all four majors in a career (Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods).
McIlroy, a 14-time PGA TOUR winner, claimed his most recent victory at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
Rafa Cabrera Bello
Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello sits T4 after a 3-under 69 in his third Masters appearance (MC/2017, T17/2016).
This week is Cabrera Bello’s 19th start in a major championship. His only top-10 showing in 18 previous starts is T4 at The Open Championship last year.
Cabrera Bello seeks to become the fourth Spanish player to win the Masters, following Seve Ballesteros (1980, 1983), Jose Maria Olazabal (1994, 1999) and Sergio Garcia (2017).
This season, Cabrera Bello has three top-10s in nine starts (T10/CIMB Classic, T5/WGC-HSBC Champions, T3 WGC-Mexico Championship).
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson shot 2-under 70 to begin his 26th start in the Masters Tournament. Mickelson has 11 top-five finishes at the Masters, just four short of Jack Nicklaus’ record 15.
Mickelson has five top-10s in 10 starts this season, including a playoff win over Justin Thomas at the WGC-Mexico Championship. In two of the three years the 43-time PGA TOUR winner has won the Masters, he posted a PGA TOUR win heading into Augusta National (2004 CareerBuilder Challenge, 2006 BellSouth Classic). Mickelson owns five major wins.
Through 14 holes, Spain’s Sergio Garcia was 2-over-par after three birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey (No. 7). The reigning Masters champion hit five balls in the water hazard fronting the par-5 15th hole before posting a 13, the highest score recorded at No. 15. Three players had scored the previous high of 11 – Masashi ‘Jumbo’ Ozaki (1987), Ben Crenshaw (1997) and Ignacio Garrido (1998). Garcia’s 13 also tied the highest score on any hole in Masters history, matching Tom Weiskopf (13 at No. 12 in 1980) and Tommy Nakajima (13 at No. 13 in 1978). Garcia played the final three holes in birdie-par-par to finish with a 9-over 81. The previous high start by a defending Masters champion belongs to Mike Weir (79/2004).
Playing his last six holes in 2-under, Tiger Woods recorded a 1-over 73 in the opening round. In 21 starts at the Masters, Woods has recorded just one sub-70 opening round (68/2010).
Thursday’s 73 at Augusta National Golf Club is Woods’ second-highest round this season (76/R2/Genesis Open).
After an absence of a year while recovering from back surgery, Woods returned to the PGA TOUR at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, finishing T23 with four rounds of par-or-better at Torrey Pines. Since then, Woods has posted two top-five results in four additional starts (MC/Genesis Open, 12th/The Honda Classic, T2/Valspar Championship, T5/Arnold Palmer Invitational).
With four wins (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), Woods joins Jack Nicklaus (6) and Arnold Palmer (4) as the only players with four or more wins at Augusta National.
This year, 23 countries are represented, one shy of the record 24 represented in 2015. There are 40 players from the United States, nine from England and five from South Africa. Spain, Australia and Japan each have four players in the field, while Germany, China, Canada and Sweden each have two representatives. Countries with one player in the field include Thailand, Argentina, Korea, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Italy, Chile, Belgium, India, Fiji, Venezuela, Austria and Wales.
First timers at the Masters (16): Wesley Bryan (74), Austin Cook (74), Harry Ellis (86), Tony Finau (68), Dylan Frittelli (77), Doug Ghim (72), Patton Kizzire (76), Satoshi Kodaira (71), Haotong Li (69), Yuxin Lin (79)), Yusaku Miyazato (77), Joaquin Niemann (76), Matt Parziale (81), Doc Redman (76), Xander Schauffele (71), Shubhankar Sharma (77).
Amateurs at the Masters (6): Harry Ellis (86/England), Doug Ghim (72/United States), Yuxin Lin (79/China), Joaquin Niemann (76/Chile), Matt Parziale (81/United States), Doc Redman (76/United States).
PGA TOUR Champions professionals in the field (8): Fred Couples (72), Vijay Singh (71), Mark O’Meara (78), Bernhard Langer (74), Jose Maria Olazabal (74), Ian Woosnam (79), Sandy Lyle (74) and Larry Mize (76).