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Bryson DeChambeau leads Scottie Scheffler by 1 at Masters



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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership lastly performed like a par-67 course for 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau in Thursday’s opening spherical of the 88th Masters.

In actual fact, it performed like a par-65 course for the captain of the LIV Golf League’s Crushers GC.

DeChambeau carded a 7-under 65 on Thursday to seize a 3-stroke lead when his weather-delayed opening spherical ended. Taking part in most of his spherical in swirling winds, DeChambeau had birdies on every of the primary three holes and added 5 extra on the second 9.

World No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler was 1 stroke again after carding a 6-under 66.

Play was suspended round 8 p.m. ET due to darkness with 27 golfers nonetheless on the course, together with five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods, who was 1 below after 13 holes. The primary spherical will resume Friday at 7:50 a.m. ET (ESPN). The second spherical will start at 8 a.m. ET.

Nicolai Højgaard of Denmark, who’s 5 below after 15 holes, and Max Homa, who’s 4 below by way of 13, are also among the many gamers but to complete the primary spherical.

England’s Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, completed his spherical and was 3 again after carding a 4-under 68. New Zealand’s Ryan Fox posted a 3-under 69.

“I shot 65 immediately, and that was probably the greatest rounds of golf I’ve performed in a very long time,” DeChambeau mentioned. “There’s three extra days to go, and I am not shedding sight of that reality — that it is proper there in entrance of me. Simply received to go execute.”

Thursday’s spherical was redemption for DeChambeau, who had struggled at Augusta Nationwide Golf Membership since boasting 4 years in the past that probably the most well-known programs on the planet wasn’t lengthy sufficient for his sport. On the 2020 Masters, DeChambeau famously mentioned his technique can be to play Augusta Nationwide as a par-67 course as a result of he was hitting the ball up to now off the tee.

“I am it as a par-67 for me as a result of I can attain all of the par-5s in two, no downside,” DeChambeau mentioned on the time. “If the circumstances keep the way in which they’re, that is what I really feel like par is for me. That is not me being big-headed. I can hit it so far as I need to.”

The world-famous golf course had since delivered DeChambeau a wholesome dose of humility. He tied for thirty fourth on the 2020 Masters, 18 strokes behind winner Dustin Johnson. The subsequent yr, DeChambeau tied for forty sixth at 5 over. He missed the minimize in every of the previous two tournaments at Augusta Nationwide.

“For me, I’ve a degree of respect for this golf course that is a little bit bit completely different than a pair years in the past,” DeChambeau mentioned Thursday. “And clearly immediately was a terrific check of golf, and I used to be capable of conquer a really tough golf course.

“Concerning the 67 remark, , you mess up. I am not an ideal particular person. Everyone messes up. You study out of your mistake and that was positively one.”

Sluggish begins doomed DeChambeau in every of his previous three Masters begins — he was a mixed 10 over within the first spherical from 2021 to 2023. That wasn’t an issue Thursday.

On the par-5, 585-yard second gap, he smashed a 350-yard drive down the center. He hit his second shot over the inexperienced, however chipped to three ft and made a brief birdie putt. Then DeChambeau almost drove the inexperienced on the par-4, 350-yard third gap and chipped to five ft for an additional birdie.

DeChambeau had drives of 350 yards on No. 8 and 332 yards on No. 9. His solely bogey got here on the par-4 ninth gap. After hitting his tee shot down the best facet, DeChambeau’s second shot was brief and landed 70 ft from the opening. He three-putted from there for a bogey.

After making the flip, DeChambeau made birdie putts of 17 ft on No. 12 and 10 ft on No. 13 to maneuver to 4 below. He had a superb take a look at eagle on the par-5 fifteenth, however left it brief and settled for birdie.

After making a 6-foot birdie on No. 16, DeChambeau caught an enormous break on the par-4 seventeenth. He pulled his tee shot into the pines down the left facet, however his ball bounced again into the golf green. He made a 31-footer for birdie to go to 7 below.

“The factor about Bryson — individuals do not discuss it — [is] he is at all times been probably the greatest putters on the planet,” mentioned 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland, who performed with DeChambeau on Thursday. “When he drives it like he did immediately. … I imply, he drove it actually good and he makes putts. He is clearly superb.

“It was a clinic. It was spectacular. He did not get out of place hardly in any respect, and he rolled it very, very good.”

As soon as often called the “Mad Scientist” due to his fascination with knowledge and the intricacies of the golf swing, DeChambeau insists he is now a extra affected person golfer who has entered a unique section of his profession.

“I am not attempting new issues, not doing new issues,” DeChambeau mentioned. “I am simply doing extra of the identical. That is what’s been completely different from a pair years in the past to now. I am simply doing the identical factor each single day, day in and day trip. I am not attempting one thing new. I am not attempting to determine one thing out. And that is what I really feel like has gathered into enjoying some actually good golf.”

Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion, posted a 2-under 34 on the entrance after which had birdies on 4 of the final seven holes. He made birdies on three of the 4 par-3s and three of the 4 par-5s.

“I wasn’t actually pondering an excessive amount of about my rating on the market,” Scheffler mentioned. “I imply, it is the primary day of the match. Like I mentioned, I used to be simply attempting to hit good photographs and keep affected person on the market. You can’t pressure your self into making birdies round this golf course. It simply would not actually lend itself to that, particularly with the excessive winds.

“And so, I imply, I noticed that [DeChambeau] shot 7-under and I assumed to myself, ‘Wow, that is a very good spherical of golf’ and I form of put my head down and centered on what I used to be doing.”

Scheffler arrived at Augusta Nationwide with a boatload of confidence after capturing victories in two of his previous three begins — he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd gap of the Texas Youngsters’s Houston Open and tied for second.

Scheffler’s largest concern this week is that his spouse, Meredith, is pregnant with their first youngster and her due date is later this month. Scheffler has mentioned he’ll go away for dwelling if she goes into labor.

“So far as her going into labor, I would not say I am very involved,” Scheffler mentioned. “We’ve not seen any of the early indicators, however being pregnant is bizarre. It could possibly occur at any time. Yeah, open strains of communication and she will be able to get ahold of me if she must. Yeah, I am able to go at a second’s discover.”

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