Masters 2024: Bryson DeChambeau leads as Scottie Scheffler and Danny Willett chase

Home » Masters 2024: Bryson DeChambeau leads as Scottie Scheffler and Danny Willett chase

Bryson DeChambeau leads by one from Scottie Scheffler after a storm-shortened first day at the Masters.

The LIV golfer finished seven under par but world number one Scheffler showed ominous touch in his bogey-free 66.

England’s 2016 winner Danny Willett, playing his first tournament since September 2023, is four under par.

Rory McIlroy hit a 71 and defending champion Jon Rahm a one-over 73, while Tiger Woods was one of 27 players whose rounds were curtailed by darkness.

The five-time winner looked in good form at one under par when the hooter sounded to end play. However, having only played 25 holes in a single tournament so far this year, the 48-year-old will have to play 23 on Friday alone to complete rounds one and two.

Play will resume at 07:50 local time (12:50 BST) with the second round beginning at 08:00.

Woods, who said earlier this week he “aches every day” after suffering a catalogue of injuries in recent years, said he expects to have “between 20 and 30 minutes in between rounds”.

“It’ll be a natural flow from the finish of the first round and [into] the second. The body is OK,” he added.

After waiting two and a half hours for thunderstorms to pass so they could start their first round, those out early exploited the conditions which had slowed the notoriously tough Augusta National greens.

DeChambeau opened with three consecutive birdies and accelerated with five more in six holes on the back nine to take a commanding lead into the clubhouse.

However, world number one Scheffler looked imperious, chipping in from a bunker for a birdie on the 12th hole and sending his tee shot on the 16th inside three feet to set up another.

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox had a sensational start, shooting five under for his front nine but dropped two shots on the back nine to finish four off the lead.

England’s 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick birdied all three holes that make up Amen Corner – the 11th, 12th and 13th – as he moved to four under, but had three bogeys in his final five holes as he signed for a one-under 71.

His European Ryder Cup team-mate Viktor Hovland raced to four under after nine holes but a double bogey on the 10th checked the Norwegian’s progress as he also shot a 71.

Despite the blustery wind strengthening as the day reached its climax, Nicolai Hojgaard battled to five under after 15 holes, while Max Homa reached four under after 13 and England’s Tyrrell Hatton three under with four to play.

Scheffler lurks as McIlroy fights into contention

After winning at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship in March, Scheffler is favourite to win a second Masters title.

While his 2022 triumph is his only major victory, the 27-year-old American boasts top-10 finishes in nine of his past 14 appearances and last year was a cumulative 18 under par in golf’s biggest events – the best of any player.

“I was just going to try and stay patient and take advantage of some holes where I could,” said Scheffler. “It’s so challenging when the winds get this high because it blows in so many different directions.”

Playing partner Rory McIlroy is chasing a first Masters title to finally complete golf’s career Grand Slam and had a shaky start with two bogey in his first three holes.

Historically, the Northern Irishman has played himself out of contention on day one at the Masters with poor scores limiting his recoveries at the weekend.

However, he found his form on the back nine to birdie the 12th and 14th holes and despite a bogey on the 17th, finished under par after round one for the first time since 2018.

“It was a little scrappy,” he conceded. “A little wasteful coming in. I had a good chance for birdie on 15 and missed a shortish one on 16. I might rue the last four holes.

“Scottie is just so efficient with everything – the amount of bogey-free rounds he plays is phenomenal and that’s the secret to winning major championships.

“[But] overall, not a bad score and a lot of golf left to play.”

DeChambeau makes his point while Willett enjoys return

DeChambeau’s only major victory so far came at the 2020 US Open, during a period where he bulked up physically and pushed the boundaries of professional golf.

Back then, he said that his power meant Augusta National should actually be a “par-67” for him. However, he has never overpowered the course, his best finish being joint 21st as the lowest amateur in 2016.

If he triumphs on Sunday, he will become the eighth player to win both that prize and the Green Jacket, joining the likes of Woods and Phil Mickelson.

His 65 marks his joint lowest round at a major as he twinned his trademark long drives with skilful play around the greens.

“It was a brutal challenge,” he said. “Strategy out here sometimes goes unnoticed and people think you can bomb it. You have to place it and I did that.

“Regarding the 67 comment, you know, you mess up, I’m not a perfect person. Everyone messes up.

“You learn from your mistakes and that was definitely one.”

Even more remarkable was the performance of Willett, given his struggles with injury. He underwent shoulder surgery in late September and was expected to be out for at least 12 months but has returned within six.

“I was still unsure on Monday if I was going to play or not,” Willett, who holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to move within three of the lead, told Sky Sports.

“I’ve been sat at home watching guys play golf on TV for six months. It’s good to be back.”

UK players make good starts

Only six UK golfers are in this week’s field but five were in the top 20 as the sun set on day one.

Joining Willett, McIlroy and Fitzpatrick in making solid starts were Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood.

Hatton was building momentum when he birdied the second hole and holed out from 50 yards on the fifth for another. But he dropped a shot after finding the water off the tee at the 12th. As play closed, he made another birdie to ensure he begins Friday four behind DeChambeau.

Like Hatton, Fleetwood is still searching for a first major title. He was in the final group out on the course and shot three birdies in a row to close the back nine but slipped back to two under after bogeying the 10th, his final hole of the day.

The hooter sounded with Justin Rose on the 18th, meaning he could finish the hole and the Englishman signed for a 73.

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