Masters: Jordan Speith will be wanting a mulligan on this one.
MARC Leishman is feeling the 2013 Augusta vibe after thriving in a Warrnambool style wind to plot a course towards another Masters Sunday.
The Victorian surged in to contention four years ago and had a front-row seat for compatriot Adam Scott’s drought breaking victory which secured Australia’s first green jacket.
But after opening with a steady one-over 73, with an 18th hole bogey courtesy of a muddy ball, Leishman said “bring on the wind” because he wasn’t worried about it at all.
Smiling and “enjoying life and golf” Leishman said he feels comfortable at Augusta and thinks the weekend, and more, is well within his reach.
“I have played well in the first round here a fair bit (he opened with 66 in 2013). I’m feeling good, in a good spot off the course, game is probably the best it has ever been coming in to The Masters.
“I am enjoying my golf and that is a big part of playing well.
“You can only play in the conditions you are giving and I enjoy playing in the wind, I really enjoyed it today. I like the fact that if you play well even par is a good score, and one-over is a good score.
“We get used to shooting low numbers a lot, not playing in too much wind over here, so this is great, I am enjoying it.”
Leishman conceded leader Charley Hoffman’s opening 65, which gave the American a four-shot lead over the field, was “probably one of the best rounds of the year” but isn’t convinced it’s the number he has to get to win.
Only four first round leaders have gone on to victory in the past 40 years which gives not only Leishman but countrymen Jason Day (two-over), Adam Scott (three-over) and even Rod Pampling (also two-over) more than a slight change of getting in to contention.
Day, playing his first competitive round since stepping away from the game to deal with his mother’s cancer battle, had as many birdies as bogeys and knows a good grind in a windy Friday could lead to better scoring on a predicted warm and much more still weekend.
“That’s the only real thing you can do is just try and grind and have more birdies than bogeys,” the world number three said.
“I think I’m playing some decent golf. I’ve just got to get myself a little bit closer to the hole.”
One shot further back than Day, Scott seemed most affected by the wind, with one of his approach shots going backwards in the air, according to his playing partner Kevin Kisner.
But the 2013 Masters champion’s plight was relative to the rest of the field, and despite
Hoffman’s blowout Scott said small improvements would get him back near the top of the leaderboard.
Scott said other than back-to-back bogeys coming home, on the 17th and 18th, he feels he “played pretty good”.
“I don’t think we are going to have any super low scores out there, “ he said.
Only amateur star Curtis Luck really came unstuck but his first ever Masters score of six-over 78 was the learning curve he knows he needed to have.
“Felt pretty comfortable out there, I wasn’t too nervous. I was nervous on the first tee, but that’s a good thing. I just didn’t hit it good enough, it’s as simple as that. It just wasn’t my day with the clubs,” he said.
Masters: World number one and tournament favourite Dustin Johnson has been forced to withdraw from the Masters after falling down his stairs at home.
“I think just hang in there. If it’s going to be similar for the rest of the week hopefully that puts me in good stead but it’s a pretty brutal course in this wind.”
The wild wind is expected to continue in to the second round before the sun comes out in time for the weekend, when they all hope to be there.
Originally published as Leishman leads Aussie tilt at wind swept Augusta