Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka atop electric leaderboard at 2023 Masters | Know Here!

Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Brooks Koepka shot very good seven-under-par 65s to steer the Masters after day one as Rory McIlroy made one other sluggish begin.

The 33-year-old Northern Irishman holed 5 birdies however they had been cancelled out as he carded a level-par 72.

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler is nicely positioned after a four-under 68, whereas Tiger Woods limped to a 74.

Stormy climate is forecast for the subsequent two days, elevating prospects of a primary Monday end since 1983.

The anticipated incoming rain at Augusta has led to Masters organisers bringing Friday’s tee-times ahead by half-hour. The second spherical will now begin at 12:30 BST.

Nevertheless, the calm situations on Thursday enabled 16 gamers to shoot beneath 70 on a scoreable opening day.

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Australian former world primary Jason Day and American Cameron Younger are the closest to the three co-leaders after they shot a five-under 67.

Eire’s 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry, American world quantity seven Xander Schauffele and Australia’s 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott are alongside Scheffler, three pictures again on a star-studded leaderboard.

American 23-year-old Sam Bennett can be amongst that group after recording the primary bogey-free spherical by an beginner in 30 years.

Woods, the 15-time main champion, was taking part in alongside Hovland and Schauffele however couldn’t match their exploits.

The 47-year-old, who gained the final of his 5 Inexperienced Jackets in 2019, has mentioned he won’t ever totally recuperate from the intense automobile accident the place he practically misplaced his leg in February 2021 and his bodily situation appeared awkward on the steep hills of Augusta Nationwide.

He appeared in ache a number of occasions, none extra so than when he performed his second shot on the 18th. He had his proper foot in a fairway bunker and ended up stumbling backwards into the sand after hitting his ball, hopping on his left leg in apparent discomfort.

Stars jostle for place on thrilling opening day

Some of the thrilling weeks within the {golfing} calendar sees the world’s best males’s gamers making their annual pilgrimage to one in every of sport’s most iconic venues.

With birdies galore, star names jostling on the leaderboard and a number of intriguing storylines, the opening day of the 87th version of the Masters actually delivered.

Spanish world quantity three Rahm produced essentially the most eye-catching spherical after recovering from a four-putt double bogey on the primary gap.

As soon as identified to lose his mood on the course, the 28-year-old Spaniard confirmed his more and more mellower aspect to shortly overlook the surprising begin.

On the spot back-to-back birdies set the tone for an imperious spherical, knocking in 5 extra birdies and an eagle as he dominated the course with lengthy driving and correct approaches.

“We overlook in regards to the opening inexperienced and it was about as snug as I’ve felt this yr,” mentioned Rahm, whose solely main win got here on the 2021 US Open.

Norway’s Hovland has lengthy been tipped to win one of many prestigious main titles and, having completed because the lowest scoring beginner at Augusta in 2019, the 25-year-old once more demonstrated his skill.

Top-of-the-line ball-strikers within the males’s sport, the world quantity 9 moved into an early share of the lead with an eagle on the par-five second.

The right begin laid the platform for a complicated and constant spherical, 5 extra birdies by the thirteenth gap seemingly placing him heading in the right direction for a commanding lead.

“I hit the ball very well on the entrance 9 however on the again 9 I managed to lean on my quick sport and that is what it’s about in a serious championship,” mentioned Hovland.

“It isn’t rocket science, you need to hit the pictures and when you do not execute it would punish you.”

Hovland and Rahm had been among the many earlier starters, with Koepka – one in every of 18 gamers from the breakaway LIV Tour – later becoming a member of them on the prime of the leaderboard.

How the gamers from the controversial Saudi-backed undertaking will fare on the Masters is one other fascinating factor.

Taking part in 54-hole occasions and fewer steadily than their PGA Tour counterparts, many questioned how prepared LIV’s main champions like Koepka, Open champion Cameron Smith and 2020 Masters victor Dustin Johnson can be to compete.

4-time main winner Koepka, who gained the newest LIV occasion in Florida final week, answered that emphatically and earned a share of the lead along with his eighth birdie of the day on the 18th.

Requested if being a LIV golfer supplied further incentive to succeed, he mentioned: “No. That is Masters week, one in every of 4 huge ones of the yr.”

McIlroy adrift after ‘scrambling all day’

A serious speaking level coming into the event was McIlroy’s newest try to be sized up for the Inexperienced Jacket.

The world quantity two was thought-about because the favorite alongside Scheffler and Rahm however, like on a number of earlier events, he already finds himself taking part in catch-up.

McIlroy birdied the par-five second however that was immediately worn out with a poor bogey on the par-four third, regardless of driving to inside a couple of yards of the inexperienced.

Worse was to return with a double bogey on the seventh, with McIlroy remaining over par in a rollercoaster spherical till he rescued some hope with birdies on 15 and 16.

Nevertheless, a wayward drive on the seventeenth led to a different bogey however an eight-foot par putt on the final no less than ensured he begins degree on Friday.

“It felt like a little bit of a scramble all day. I missed a few tee pictures left, paid the worth and was untidy in another areas,” four-time main winner McIlroy advised Sky Sports activities.

“I attempted to remain affected person despite the fact that there are three guys at seven beneath and you are feeling a good distance behind them. However there are nonetheless 54 holes left, quite a bit an occur and the climate is coming in.”

What else occurred on day one?

Scottish veteran Sandy Lyle, the primary British participant to win the Masters in 1988, unintentionally snapped a membership on the primary gap as he shot a nine-over 81 in what was the penultimate spherical of his skilled profession.

The 65-year-old former Ryder Cup participant, who not too long ago introduced his impending retirement, is ending his profession on the scene of one in every of his best triumphs.

Lyle, who broke his membership on a tree department whereas escaping from the undergrowth, described his efficiency as “substandard”.

Former world primary Justin Rose, who certified for a thirteenth straight Masters by profitable at Pebble Seashore in February, leads the English contingent after a three-under 69.

US Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton – at two beneath and one beneath respectively – had been the one different Englishmen to complete beneath par, whereas Northern Irish beginner Matthew McClean ended up 5 over regardless of being the early chief on two beneath after 4 holes.

Fred {Couples}, the 63-year-old American who gained the Masters in 1992, grew to become the oldest participant to interrupt par at Augusta since Tom Watson in 2015 with a one-under 71.

4 birdies between the twelfth and seventeenth holes moved {Couples} into joint third place earlier than a bogey on the final – plus the later starters – dropped him down the leaderboard.

An preliminary area of 88 gamers on the opening males’s main of the yr was lowered after American pair Will Zalatoris and Kevin Na withdrew. Zalatoris pulled out minutes earlier than he was scheduled to tee off, whereas Na was 4 over after 9 when he walked off citing sickness.

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