Pros advice

Garcia & Leishman Lead After Day One

It was certainly entertaining watching the first day of the 77th annual US Masters, which kicked off in style and saw Spain’s Sergio Garcia tied for first with Australia’s Marc Leishman.

The two players shot a 66 for a one-stroke lead to jointly pull ahead of American Dustin Johnson and remain two ahead of the grouping of David Lynn, Fred Couples and Trevor Immelman.

Leishman dropped a shot at the first before coming home in 31 to overtake then-leader and Masters debutant Lynn.

The weather had threatened to spoil what was shaping up to be a great Major, with suspected thunderstorms on the horizon. And although the day was overcast, it remained dry and play was uninterrupted.

There was a lot of fanfare heading into The Masters around a resurgent Tiger Woods, and the world number one began his quest for that fifth Green Jacket by carding a two-under 70. A mixed three birdies with a single bogey at the 14th was enough for him to be satisfied with the opening day’s performance. If Tiger wins it will be his first Major victory since 2008.

The man who Woods usurped for the number one spot, Rory McIlroy also enjoyed a fair opening day, carding a 72, while English duo Justin Rose and Lee Westwood continued pushing forward and stuck close to Tiger. Phil Mickelson was left one adrift of the pack.

A lot of interest had been placed on the shoulders of 14-year-old Chinese wonder kid and amateur Guan Tianlang, the youngest player in US Masters history. He carded a 73 following a birdie at the last hole.

It wasn’t smiles all round though, as defending champion Bubba Watson had a torrid opening day and looks like a man defeated already following a 75 which left him nine shots back.

Englishman Ian Poulter also struggled early on and his hopes of improving upon last year’s seventh-place finish were damaged following bogey’s on the last two holes in a round of 76.

Fred Couples, champion in 1992, was left joined at four-under alongside a colourful Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Spain’s Gonzales Fernandez Castano.