US Masters: Scott and McIlroy poised to strike after slow start
Bill Haas leads after the first round of the Masters, but the big guns are waiting in the wings
THE US Masters got off to a slow start in Augusta, with no-one establishing themselves as pace setter, as reigning champion Adam Scott and well-fancied Rory McIlroy put in solid opening rounds.
At the end of the first day the lead was held by American Bill Haas who carded a four under par round of 68, one shot ahead of Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen and Scott. McIlroy ended two shots further back on one under, but declared himself satisfied.
"I was keeping an eye on the boards to compare and you could see today it was a good effort to have anything around 70," said the Northern Irishman.
"Wide open it may be, yet that does not mean the favourites cannot be fancied in this 78th Masters. Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy moved into position on a crowded leaderboard on an opening day in which Augusta restated its propensity to torment the golfing soul," says James Corrigan of the Daily Telegraph.
It was a "a curious, relatively low-key start to proceedings", says Ewan Murray in The Guardian. "A swirling breeze and string of hazardous pin placements on greens which increased in pace as Thursday wore on played their part in that.
"The appearance of Scott and Rory McIlroy... at the business end of the leaderboard is promising for the next three days. A batch of players seeking a maiden major victory are lingering with intent."
Before the tournament began McIlroy said that 70 of the field of 97 had legitimate hopes of winning. "That statement remains applicable now," says Murray.
"The early throes of the Masters are often a phoney war, with the main aim being not to play your way out of contention," explains Rick Broadbent in The Times. But he is impressed by defending champion Scott's relaxed demeanour. And he points out that if the Australian is looking for an omen, his opening round score was the same as it was last year.