Five Englishmen are inside the top 15 after strong starts to the 2017 US Masters at Augusta National
Englishmen Impress In First Round Of 2017 Masters
This week, England is represented in the US Masters by no fewer than 11 players. No other nation, the USA aside, has ever had more golfers in the field. And, what’s more, it could have been 12 if Nick Faldo had swapped the commentary booth for the verdant fairways of Augusta National.
Quite rightly, many commentators have begun to discuss whether we’re entering the golden age of English golf. A glance at the first-round Masters leaderboard would suggest we’re already in it.
Of course, England isn’t new to success in the golfing sphere. In the modern era, Tony Jacklin won two Major Championships and Nick Faldo triumphed six times in golf’s big four events. The difference now, however, is there sheer multitude of Englishmen in and around the world’s top 50.
Justin Rose won the 2013 US Open and Danny Willett reigned supreme in the 2016 Masters – the first time two different Englishmen had won Majors within a three-year span since Reg Whitcombe and Dick Burton at the 1938 and 1939 Open Championships respectively.
With Rose, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood – who birdied five holes in a row from the 13th – all inside the top 15, it could become three in four years.
Fitzpatrick – who finished 7th last year – compiled an excellent 71, marred slightly by a double-bogey at the last, in extremely testing conditions. Sullivan and Rose also posted rounds of one-under-par.
Charley Hoffman has a four shot lead, but can he hang on?
“It was a solid day. If you look at the leaderboard, no one is running away with it. It’s easy to play yourself out of it on a day like today,” said Fitzpatrick, who was paired with Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth.
“It was fantastic out there. I’m good friends with Martin and I’d only played with Jordan once before, at the 2013 Open when I was an amateur. I’d be bold enough to say he’s probably America’s favourite golfer, so it was fantastic to play with crowds like that.”
Rose was in good spirits after his round, and was quick to pay tribute to arguably English golf’s brightest young talent.
“Fitzy’s a great player. He has a great ball flight and a great putter, which is ideal for the conditions we had today. I played with him here when he was an amateur and I was impressed with how he got around the golf course. It doesn’t surprise me to see him up there on a day like today.”
As for his own round, he said:
“If you beat the golf course today, you can be very proud of yourself. It was very tough out there; there was no respite. I’ve never played the course in wind like that.
“I didn’t miss a shot tee to green for the first 12 holes, but I found making putts incredibly difficult. When the greens are this fast, this wind has a significant effect on them.
“I could have turned in six-under, no doubt. I played great golf.”
Charley Hoffman, who played so well in 2015, leads the way after the first round follwing an impressive seven-under-par 65.
He’s four shots clear of William McGirt, who shot a three-under 69 on his first competitive round at Augusta National.
Attend The 2018 Masters with Your Golf Travel – visit yourgolftravel.com/us-masters Experiences including flights, hotels & tickets are available. Nick Bonfield travelled to the 2017 Masters courtesy of Your Golf Travel.