SERGIO GARCIA turned in a bogey-free round to claim a share of the Masters lead.

Garcia shot a six-under 66 on Thursday, leaving him tied with Marc Leishman and matching the Spaniard’s best score at Augusta National.

Marc Leishman’s second go at the Masters began with an opening-round 66 that put the 29-year-old Australian in the clubhouse lead.

This is a course that has never suited Garcia’s game — especially his shaky putter. But he breezed around without a bogey on his card for the first time since 2002.

It’s still a reach to think this might be the place where Garcia wins his first Major championship. He’s had only two top-10 finishes in 14 Masters appearances.

But the way he played in the opening round could mean a change in fortune.

Dustin Johnson is one stroke back at 67 and Tiger Woods is just four shots off the lead after a 70.

Jamie Donaldson turned in the shot of the day, aceing the 180-yard sixth for the 24th hole-in-one in Masters history. He is only the fifth player to make a one at the hole known as Juniper, with its towering tee box and a green at the bottom of the hill. Donaldson was the first to do it since Chris DiMarco in 2004.

Guan Tianlang of China, at age 14, was the youngest player to qualify for the Masters.

He got off to a shaky start, making bogey on the first hole, but showed remarkable poise. When the ball dropped into the cup for a birdie at the third he pumped his right fist. He finished with a long birdie on No.18 to end his round at one over.

The kid was followed by his parents and several family friends but inside the ropes Guan relied heavily on his playing partner, two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, chatting frequently and soaking up every bit of advice he could.

RECOMMENDED BETS

T13 Lee Westwood each-way @ 31.0 *-2*
T4 Matt Kuchar @ 3.9 to finish Top 10 *-4*
T70 Hunter Mahan @ 5.0 to finish Top 10 *+4*
T33 Peter Hanson @ 8.0 to finish as Top Continental European *E*
T13 Back Tiger Woods @ 5.4 *-2*

MY E/W SELECTIONS

T56 Louis Oosthuizen @ 31.0 *+2*
T70 Hunter Mahan @ 41.0 *+4*
T46 Richard Sterne @ 201.0 *+1*
T70 Martin Laird @ 111.0 *+4*

Milesey (Betfair)

2 Comments
  1. Milesey 8 years ago

    With the Masters leaderboard taking shape and list of contenders shortening fast,betting advice for both the outright market and Friday’s 3-balls…

    Outright

    Historically, the second morning of the Masters is an ideal time to try and pick the outright winner. That’s because at this relatively early stage, the tournament can still seem relatively wide-open, yet the stats suggest we can actually reduce calculations to a small band of contenders. As Steve Rawlings laid out in detail pre-tournament, Augusta is simply not a catch-up course and only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won from outside the top-ten at this stage since 1998.

    A repeat of the trend would mean we should look no further than the current top-12, amongst whom several are immediately dismissed as the rank outsiders they were pre-tournament. Of course this doesn’t mean the rest are completely ignored. The players within four and five off the lead – most notably Tiger and Phil – are still very much in the event. However as the leaders tend to hang around on this course, it makes more sense to focus on trading them at this stage, then worry about any chasers if and when their challenge materialises.

    Of the leading dozen, only five were among my pre-tournament shortlist of realistic winners – Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott. Former champions like Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman might seem like harsh exclusions, but for now I’m sticking with my pre-tournament verdict about each player. That means the perennially unreliable Garcia can be overlooked as is DJ, at least for now. Equally Rickie Fowler might catch my attention as the week develops.

    Kuchar and Scott, however, look the best trading value for now. The former was one of my main pre-tournament tips, both as an each-way and top-ten selection. Scott will be loving the fact Augusta’s greens are playing soft, therefore negating his biggest weakness. Both are at the perfect stage of their careers to be breaking through in a major. Both have contended very strongly in this major – Kuchar finishing third last year, Scott second in 2011. Both are still available at double figure odds. I strongly fancy at least one of them to contend and trade much shorter than this in the days ahead.

    Recommended Bets

    Back Matt Kuchar @ 14.5
    Back Adam Scott @ 17.5

    3-balls

    Starts 15.23
    Back Phil Mickelson @ 2.1 (v Oosthuizen, Kaymer)

    Phil Mickelson kept a faltering Masters bid alive with a strong back-nine around his favourite course and must be expected to move into contention today, as per usual. 12 months ago he stormed back with 68 at this stage – the third time he’s hit that score on the last five Masters Fridays. Apart from Oosthuizen’s runners-up effort last year, the course record of Phil’s opponents are incomparable and the South African is in much worse form now, struggling to make the cut.

    Starts 15.34
    Fredrik Jacobson @ 4.2 (v McIlroy, Bradley)

    Here I’m backing the outsider of three. One always fears Rory McIlroy but yesterday’s level par round didn’t enhance a mixed Augusta record, while Bradley has yet to achieve anything here. As argued in a couple of pre-tournament pieces, Jacobson is an in-form player with strong credentials for this layout.

    Starts 16.51
    Back Tim Clark @ 2.54 (v Pettersson, Garrigus)

    Given that Clark won this group by six shots yesterday, I’m surprised to see him trading well above even money. A former Masters runner-up, Clark is one of the more plausible outsiders while neither of these opponents has anything to recommend them. Pettersson has repeatedly struggled on these greens, while Garrigus lacks the course experience and tactical nous.

    Milesey

  2. Milesey 8 years ago

    Here’s the first round leaderboard

    Sergio Garcia -6
    Marc Leishman -6
    Dustin Johnson -5
    Matt Kuchar -4
    Rickie Fowler -4
    Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano -4
    Trevor Immelman -4
    Freddie Couples -4
    David Lynn -4
    Jim Furyk -3
    Zach Johnson -3
    Adam Scott -3

    -2 Bar

    Milesey

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