Korean first-timer Tom Kim carded an impressive 2-under 70 in the opening round of the Masters Tournament on Thursday, with an unfortunate double bogey spoiling an otherwise flawless debut appearance in the year’s opening major.
The 20-year-old Kim put on a polished display at Augusta National with birdies on the first and second holes before making a glorious eagle on the par-5 13th hole from nine feet to get to 4-under for the day in the company of 2022 FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy (72) and Sam Burns (68), the recent winner of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
However, disaster struck on the par-5 15th hole, although through no fault of his. Kim’s third shot from out of the greenside trap had looked to be perfect before his ball caught a slope on the green and rolled off into the water hazard for an eventual seven. He missed a 13-foot birdie chance on the closing hole to end his day on a strong note.
Kim still emerged as the leading Asian performer where he ended the first round five strokes off the pace in a share of 17th position. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, signed for a 71, as did Sungjae Im of Korea, who holds two top-10s in three Masters appearances.
A thrilling opening day ended in a leaderboard logjam as World No. 3 Jon Rahm of Spain, Norwegian Viktor Hovland and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka of the U.S. carded matching 65s for the co-first round lead. American Cameron Young and Jason Day of Australia were two back in tied fourth, defending champion Scottie Scheffler opened with a 68 while five-time Masters winner Tiger Woods battled to a 74 which included two three-putt bogeys.
Amongst the co-leaders, Rahm, who has won three times on the PGA TOUR this season, had to dig deep from the get-go after a disastrous four-putt double bogey on the first hole. The Spaniard, who holds one career major victory, fought back magnificently with seven birdies and an eagle to match his career low score at Augusta National.
“If you’re going to make a double or four-putt or anything, it might as well be the first hole, 71 holes to make it up. After that, I was focused on the fact that all the strokes were good. I just got to work and I had 17 holes to make up,” said Rahm, who holds four career top-10s at the Masters.
Woods, who has limited his tournament appearances following a car accident two years ago, drew large crowds but struggled to find his range with his iron play and putting. He has not missed the cut at the Masters since 1996 and will have his work cut out on Friday to extend his made-cut streak to 23. He lamented: “I didn’t have very good speed early. I had two three-putts, and consequently, I’m a couple over par. I didn’t hit my irons close enough. I didn’t give myself very good looks. Need to do a better job of that going forward to hopefully get myself back in this tournament,” said the 47-year-old.
First-Round Notes – Thursday, April 6, 2023
Weather: Mostly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SSW 5-10 mph. Friday tee times have been moved up 30 minutes due to potential inclement weather and the first second-round starting time is now 7:30 a.m. ET.
Viktor Hovland 65 (-7)
Jon Rahm 65 (-7)
Brooks Koepka 65 (-7)
Cameron Young 67 (-5)
Jason Day 67 (-5)