Thursday, 11 April 2019
Justin Harding  (Getty Images)
Justin Harding (Getty Images)

Justin Harding and Lucas Bjerregaard enjoyed spectacular starts to their Masters Tournament careers as the debutants put themselves right in the mix on day one at Augusta National Golf Club.

An opening 69 from Harding had him at three under and it could have been even better had he not dropped a shot on the last.

Bjerregaard overcame a double bogey on the fourth to get himself to three under but he too dropped a shot on the 18th to sign for an opening 70.

It was just 12 months ago that Harding missed the cut at the Zanaco Masters on the Sunshine Tour and found himself at 422nd on the Official World Golf Ranking.

I'll take it and run if I can - we're not allowed to run here at Augusta - but I'm pleased - Justin Harding

The South African started the 2019 Race to Dubai without full playing privileges but his victory at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters was one of five worldwide wins in ten months, and he now finds himself 49th in the world and at the season's first Major Championship.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it," he said. "I handled the emotions of the day quite well, better than expected and just kind of worked my way in.

"I'll take it and run if I can - we're not allowed to run here at Augusta - but I'm pleased. It's one of those where I gave myself a couple of chances, I didn't feel like I took great advantage of the par fives.

"I'm still learning and this golf course is difficult.

"It's pretty much how I've been playing for the last, let's call it 15 months, I'm seeing the golf course for the first time almost every week. So I'm not taking any real demons, any bad shots or any bad memories into them, I suppose. 

"But then again I also watched the Masters a few times on TV, so you see where everybody hits up to."

Bjerregaard won his second European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and soon cracked the top 50 with impressive performances in the final three Rolex Series events of 2018.

We did our homework well and today really showed that - Lucas Bjerregaard

A victory over Tiger Woods at the recent WGC-Dell Technologies Match Pay thrust him further into the limelight, and the Dane has come into his first appearance at Augusta National well prepared.

“I feel like I’ve done my homework," he said. "I’ve watched the tournament on TV the last 15 years so I know a little bit from that.

“Obviously my caddie Jonathan (Smart) won with Danny Willett here in 2016 so he knows his way around and I’ve been relying on him quite a bit. We came here and had a look at the course and we did our homework well and today really showed that."

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WOODS, TigerUSA18-13
T2JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-12
T2KOEPKA, BrooksUSA18-12
T5DAY, JasonAUS18-11

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