Senior moment

DiMarco in familiar spot after wet and wild start

The Masters

Through Sunday * Augusta National Golf Club * TV: Today, 4 p.m., USA Network


April 08, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Considering the way it looked around here yesterday morning, it's amazing that any golf was played in the opening round of the 69th Masters. More than an inch of rain fell, lightning struck and everyone waited. For 5 1/2 hours.

While some seemed unfazed by the delay, many might have been hoping for a complete washout.

Chris DiMarco, who has contended here two of the past four years, was at 4-under through 14 holes. Mark Hensby of Australia, one of only 24 players to finish, was at 3-under par 69. Englishman Luke Donald was also at 3-under, through 14.

Play was called last night at 7:23 with 68 players still on the course.

"This is the start of the race," said DiMarco, 36, who finished tied for sixth last year after going into the final round tied with eventual champion Phil Mickelson, and also led after each of the first two rounds in 2001. "This is a marathon; we've got a long way to go."

The leader board was filled with partial scores, but big names nonetheless. Former champion Vijay Singh and Mickelson, the world's Nos. 1 and 4-ranked players, respectively, were 2-under through 11 holes. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, ranked No. 5, was 2-under through 13. There was even a Palmer, but it was Ryan not Arnold, at 2-under through 16.

And there were some who were noticeably absent from the leader board.

Tiger Woods, considered by many the favorite to win his fourth Masters and first major championship in more than two years, hit some poor shots and had some bad luck, putting off the green on one hole and ricocheting off the flagstick on another while playing 12 holes in 2-over par.

Three-time major champion Ernie Els of South Africa, former PGA champion Davis Love and Sergio Garcia of Spain were all at 3-over through 11, 14 and 10 holes, respectively. Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel finished with a 3-over 75 and former British Open champion Ben Curtis shot 8-over par 80.

"He's got a few good breaks over his career, so you know what, darn, you know it's golf," DiMarco said of Woods. "I got a really bad break on 18. I was in a hole, I was in one of the only blemishes out here. That's just the way it is. Hitting a pin and going into a bunker, that's just really bad luck."

Woods might have had the most bizarre round of anyone.

Starting on the back nine, Woods opened with a bogey. On the 510-yard, par-5 13th hole, Woods reached the green in two, but had a 50-foot putt over two ridges for eagle. He hit the ball a little too hard, and it ran past the cup, and kept going until it was trickled into Rae's Creek.

Woods placed another ball down from where he had putted the first, two-putting for bogey. It was only a couple of hours later when a rules official questioned Woods about what happened on the hole. There was a question as to whether Woods had conferred with a rules official before replacing his ball.

Woods, who was unavailable to comment, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

"We reviewed the tape with Tiger of his second putt ... and the tape was inconclusive," said Will F. Nicholson, chairman of the competition committee.

Making the turn at 1-under after getting a birdie at the par-5 15th, Woods hit his approach on the par-4 first hole off the bottom of the flagstick, the ball careening into a bad lie in a bunker. He flung away his sand wedge in disgust and wound up making bogey.

Woods then seemed to lose control of his driver on the par-5 second hole, the ball hitting a tree left of the fairway and landing no more than 100 yards from the tee. He had little angle for his next shot, which went into the trees to the right, but Woods saved par after finding another bunker.

The course, not to mention the golfing gods of Augusta, had taken a couple of pokes at the world's No. 2-ranked player.

"[The course] doesn't know who you are or who that golf ball belongs to when you tee off," Micheel said. "It makes you look silly at times. From the very first tee to the 18th green, it keeps you on your toes. That's why I don't think you'll never see a first-time tournament winner win at this course."

Hensby is hoping that it might happen to a second-time PGA Tour winner. Playing in his first Masters, Hensby birdied the last two holes to climb right below DiMarco on the leader board. This comes after he finished near the back of the pack (tied for 73rd) at The Players Championship and was disqualified at Bay Hill.

"You never forget where you come from," said Hensby, 33, who in his first try at the PGA Tour more than a decade ago was forced to live in his car to save on expenses. "There's been a lot tougher times for a lot of people. The ultimate goal in my career is to win a major.

"Do I have the game to do it, I don't know, but you keep trying, you don't give up on the dream and whatever helps - or if it doesn't happen - but the bottom line is you never forget the struggles ... but I think it makes you stronger in a way."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.