Lynn leads after stunning debut

11/04/2013 18:30:00
David Lynn   (Getty Images)
David Lynn (Getty Images)
England's David Lynn, who described qualifying for the Masters Tournament as a dream come true, might be forgiven for thinking he had yet to wake up after setting the clubhouse target on his tournament debut.

Playing only the third Major of his career after securing his place by finishing second to Rory McIlroy at the US PGA Championship last year, Lynn carded a four under par 68 in the first round at Augusta National.

The 39 year old, who has just one win in almost 400 European Tour events, carded six birdies and two bogeys to lead by one from Jim Furyk and Justin Rose, who were both approaching the end of their rounds.

Out in the third group at 8:22am local time, World Number 53 Lynn birdied the first, eighth and ninth to be out in 33, and after a dropped shot on the tenth, hit back with birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th, where he pitched to three feet.

A bogey on the 17th looked like being followed with another on the 18th when he was faced with a 12 foot putt for par, but he holed out to complete a brilliant debut round.

World Number One Tiger Woods, seeking a fifth Green Jacket, was one under after six holes, but defending champion Bubba Watson was two over after seven following dropped shots at the first, fifth and seventh.

Watson was by no means the first to fall victim to the opening hole, ranked the hardest on the course in 2012 at an average of 4.39, with 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood faring even worse with double-bogey sixes.

Westwood, seeking a first Major title at the 60th attempt, quickly repaired some of the damage with a birdie on the par five second as he looked to improve on a Masters record which reads second, 11th, third in the last three years, before picking up further shots on the ninth, tenth and 13th to lie two under.

Schwartzel, who chipped in for birdie on the first in the final round two years ago, carved his drive into the trees and hit more timber with a left-handed escape attempt.

His third shot went across the fairway and into the first cut of rough, from where he played an excellent approach but could only two-putt for a six.

What he would have given for any of the drives hit by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in their role as honorary starters some two hours earlier, with Player in particular hitting a superb shot of some 250 yards which found the right-hand side of the fairway.

With that the trio who used to be known as golf's "Big Three" - they have 13 Masters titles between them - retired to the clubhouse and allowed the tournament proper to begin, with Sandy Lyle hitting the first shot on the 25th anniversary of his victory here.

Lyle, with a peculiar pause in his backswing and a putter which resembled a frying pan, chipped from one side of the green to off the other side to bogey the first, and also dropped a shot at the fourth before a birdie on the eighth took him out in 37.

And the 55 year old came home in 36 with a birdie on the 15th and bogey on the 17th to post a creditable 73, one over par.

Playing partner Ian Woosnam had also played nine holes of practice with Lynn but said: "I'm not taking any credit for his round. He was very relaxed and seemed to have the right attitude, does not get too upset and plays within himself.

"He is hitting the ball really straight, everything at the flag and is putting well. He did not do too much wrong."

There was more good news for British players when Jamie Donaldson fired a hole-in-one on the sixth, only the fifth on the 180 yard hole in Masters history and the first since Chris Di Marco in 2004.

That took the Welshman from one over par to one under, while Westwood had moved alongside Rose on three under with a birdie on the 15th.