Day one completed and what a day. The whimpering and whinging of the last few years is gone. Back are the roars, the excited tingles and, best of all, the ice cream. Why the ice cream? Because once again the sun is shining. Hallelujah. Large ones all round.
I can’t begin to describe to you what a difference calm sunshine makes to The Masters. The players love it, the punters love it and I love it. Mostly I love it because the hot weather encourages a lot of very attractive women to wear not a lot. This is what has been missing in recent times, legs. Oh, and birdies and eagles of course.
Well, there were plenty of low numbers yesterday, a posse led by Chad Campbell. Starting with five straight birdies helped Campbell’s cause, but to his credit he kept his momentum cranked up: four more birdies on the bounce over the back nine.
Even up on the clubhouse lawn the grenades of noise that greeted these birdies were clearly heard. So, happily, the old noise is back in town and good to hear.
Also back yesterday, of course, was my old mate Greg Norman. “Time to go,” he said as he exited the locker room and began to stride towards the first tee for the first time since 2002 courtesy of his Open heroics last summer at Birkdale.
The old boy, he is now 54, didn’t look much different either. But then he always has looked fit, tanned and, well, ready. Only disappointment for me as I followed him around most of Augusta yesterday was that he had decided to wear a baseball cap rather than the straw fedora that has made his silhouette so distinctive.
But his play was superb. He should have birdied the opening three holes – the longest putt he had was eight feet – and generally his ball striking was back in the old routine. Cheering from the sidelines was his bride of just ten months. Chrissie Evert is now apparently into golf more than tennis and Greg says he has promised to teach her the game. I cautioned against such a move as I believe the eleventh commandment should be: Thou shalt not teach thy woman to play the noble game golf or else calamity will descend on your house.
Anyway, everyone was very happy when Greg finished two-under-par, as did his playing partners, Bernhard Langer and Lee Westwood. Westwood, youngest by 20 years, was delighted not just by his own play, but also by the company.
“That’s the nicest day I’ve ever had at a Major. Greg and Bernhard were heroes of mine when I was a lad, in fact they are two big reasons why I am now a pro golfer myself, so to play with them on the first day of the Masters and for us all to shoot 70 is a genuine thrill.”
Thrill? The whole day was a kick. Roll on the weekend and the real rollercoaster ride…
More US Masters on Golf Monthly