Friday, 19 March 2010
The Masters - Round One  (Getty Images)
The Masters - Round One (Getty Images)

England's Ross Fisher enjoyed a sparkling start on his Masters Tournament debut at Augusta National – but he was denied the lead by Tim Clark.

Fisher, the 28 year old, grabbed six birdies to race ahead of the field, but two bogeys on the last holes meant he had to settle for a three under par 69.

The South African, runner-up to Phil Mickelson in 2006, was trying to become the first player to win both the eve of tournament par three competition and the championship proper.

Fisher is playing only the fifth major of his career, but has already made his mark in the United States this season with a fourth-place finish in the WGC-Match Play in Arizona.

In near-perfect early morning conditions the European Open champion sank eight-foot birdie putts on the second and third, then converted a 12-foot chance on the short sixth.

A 25-footer followed at the 570-yard eighth, but he turned in 33 after sending his approach to the ninth 30 feet long and three putting for bogey.

It did not take the wind out of his sails at that point, though. Saving par from seven feet at the 10th kept him at three under and then he fired in a wonderful approach to three feet at the difficult 505-yard par four 11th.

After lipping out from 15 feet on the next he was on in two at the long 13th, but from 20 feet he sent his eagle putt six feet past, missed the return and walked off with only a par.

He holed from similar range for another birdie at the short 16th, but as the wind began to pick up he caught the greenside trap on the next and could not recover from driving into another bunker at the last.

Clark also collected six birdies, but his only bogeys came on the fourth and sixth.

Padraig Harrington, chasing a third successive major, scrambled a par on the opening hole, promptly birdied the long second and added another on the long eighth.

Mickelson, with a chance to take over from Woods as world number one, was alongside him at one under after seven, while Greg Norman – back in the event after a seven-year gap – was two under after 10.

Seventy three year old Gary Player – playing his record 52nd and last Masters Tournament – was three over after 13.

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