The old adage is that the Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday. That might be true, but only for those who get themselves into contention before Sunday’s final nine.

During the past 18 years, the Masters champion has been inside the top 10 on the leaderboard after the first round every year except 2005 and 2019. Guess who won those two? Tiger Woods was T-11 in 2019 and in 2005 he was well outside the top 10. It’s been 20 years since someone won from outside the first-round top 10.

Australia’s top-ranked male, world No.21 Jason Day, tied for second in 2011. He is well aware of the stat. Day should be, considering he is grouped with Woods and Max Homa for the opening rounds. They tee off at 1:24pm on Thursday local time, 3:24am on Friday Australian time.

“It’s very important,” Day said. “Based off what weather we’re going to get [Thursday is forecast for thunderstorms], it’ll be interesting to see what the final scoring will be. You can’t get yourself too far out of the tournament come Thursday and Friday, just because of the weather.”

Smith, who was second to Dustin Johnson in 2020 and third behind Scottie Scheffler in 2022, agreed.

“Yeah, I mean, you try and play well every round, obviously, but I think here more than most places if you get behind the eight-ball, you’re pretty screwed pretty early,” said Smith, the 2022 Open champion. It definitely doesn’t make it any easier. I think the golf course is going to get harder and harder as the week goes on, and you definitely want to be up at the top of the leaderboard when it starts to get firm and fast.”

However, Sydneysider Cam Davis, the world No.62, said it’s more important to stay level-headed and not treat the Masters as the huge event it is and over-practise, rather a normal PGA Tour event.

“I think for me to play my best, I need to treat it that way,” he said. “I think when I have played my best it’s not because I over-prepared, it’s not because I spent every night thinking about every shot I’m about to play. I just did my job, went home, came back, did my job again.”

There are six Australian in the field at the Masters. Major winners Smith, Day and 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott, as well as Min Woo Lee and Davis, as well as amateur Jasper Stubbs.


11pm Thursday: Jasper Stubbs (AUS), Zach Johnson (USA), Corey Conners (CAN)

12:06am Friday: Min Woo Lee (AUS), Patrick Cantlay (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA)

12:18am: Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Will Zalatoris (USA), Justin Thomas (USA)

12:30am: Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG), Nick Dunlap (USA)

12:54am: Cameron Smith (AUS), Wyndham Clark (USA), Viktor Hovland (NOR)

1:18am: Cam Davis (AUS), Camilo Villegas (COL), Denny McCarthy (USA)

3:12am: Adam Scott (AUS), Sam Burns (USA), Cameron Young (USA)

3:24am: Jason Day (AUS), Tiger Woods (USA), Max Homa (USA)

3:36am: Brian Harman (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Tom Kim (KOR)