I’ve just spent a few hours out in the baking Georgia sun and have now recovered after two very large glasses of ice-cold pink lemonade. I decided to follow Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Matt Kuchar from the first tee onwards. I always think that’s the best way to watch the golf. To get an idea of how the top players build their scores rather than just standing behind a tee all day and letting out gasps of wonderment every time one of them gives it a rip.
Kaymer was having a real shocker and, no matter what he says, his inability to hit a draw was seriously costing him. On a number of holes I saw him try to hug the left side to allow for his fade and find trouble.
On the seventh he struck a tree about 230 yards out and left himself a nightmare shot, well a nightmare for him anyway as he had to produce a hook around the low-hanging branches to find the putting surface. He pulled it off supremely well but it was all seeming a little difficult.
On the 10th, he hit the trees on the left even sooner and his ball ricocheted off further left. He had to hack it out of somebody’s flowerbed to get back to the fairway. He then followed that up with a slice, then left his pitch short in the bunker. In the end he did extremely well to get up and down for a six. On the 13th he couldn’t get it turning round the corner and ended in the pine straw – Mickelson country. This course just does not suit his game and, until he learns to consistently shape it right to left, it never will.
I then watched McIlroy for his last couple of holes. The patrons were giving him great support and, with Rickie Fowler in his three ball, the galleries following were impressive.
The young Northern Irishman currently leads the way after posting an excellent 65. It could just about have been 60! He’s made fantastic starts in Majors before of course, remember 63 in last year’s Open Championship, so he needs to consolidate the performance with a solid round tomorrow. If he can do that, who knows?
It’s good to see Sergio back on the first page of Major leaderboard but some of the European’s haven’t lived up to expectations. Kaymer – he’s now finished with a 78! Padraig Harrington took 77, Francesco Molinari is +3, Luke Donald is +2 (shouldn’t have won that par 3 contest Luke,) McDowell +2, Laird +2… the list goes on.
Gregory Havret is up there again at two-under-par though. He’s becoming something of a Major specialist. The super-cool Frenchman must just have the right temperament to cope with the pressures of golf’s biggest events.
I’m following the progress of young Japanese player Hideki Matsuyama. Last October I travelled to Japan to write a feature on the Asian Amateur Championship contested at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Matsuyama was the winner and it earned him an invite to this year’s Masters. He looked seriously impressive in claiming victory in that event and, so far, he’s coping extremely well here – He’s currently one-under-par. That’s seven shots better than the World Number 1.
Golf Monthly at the US Masters: