Charley Hoffman prevailed spectacularly over the strong winds that stymied much of the field on Thursday, shooting a seven-under par 65 to take a four-stroke lead in the first round of the Masters.
Hoffman made nine birdies, including four in a row on the back nine and five in a six-hole stretch at Augusta National Golf Club.
William McGirt, a Masters rookie at 37, is alone in second with a three-under par 69. McGirt, who earned his first invitation to Augusta National by virtue of his victory in the Memorial Tournament last year, made four birdies and a single bogey on a day in which the scoring average topped 75.
“I would say that is one of my top four or five rounds since I’ve been on tour,” McGirt said. “I’d put it right up there with the 64 I had in the third round of the Memorial. It was a very, very difficult day on the golf course.”
Phil Mickelson was in a group that shot one-under par 71s.
“It’s challenging, but we’ve had more challenging conditions,” Mickelson said. “The greens were receptive today. Yes, it’s tough to judge the wind, but if you get the ball to fly on the green you can hold it.”
Jordan Spieth shot a three-over 75 that included a quadruple-bogey nine on the 15th hole, the second round in a row he had a quadruple bogey in the Masters. In the final round last year, he hit two balls in the water and made a seven on the par-3 12th hole.
This time, he hit his third shot into the water at 15, his fifth shot over the green and concluded the hole by three-putting.
Rickie Fowler, meanwhile, led for a short time, but double-bogeyed the 18th hole to finish with a one-over 73. Jason Day posted a two-over 74.
Dustin Johnson, No.1 in the World Ranking and the winner of three straight tournaments coming into this week, withdrew before his round began, a victim of his having slipped on stairs in the home in which he was renting and injuring his back.