Masters 2017: Charley Hoffman leads with first round 65
Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw, Jordan Spieth tried to rebound from last years’ disastrous collapse, but was hit by a quadruple-bogey nine, while Charley Hoffman leads by a distance.
Hoffman, ranked No. 52 in the world, managed to get the lead over William McGirt in the first round of the 81st Masters Tournament. The 40-year old four-time winner on the PGA Tour sank nine birdies in a seven-under-par 65 to lead from fellow rival William McGirt.
Johnson withdrew minutes before he was scheduled to tee off with Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson. He was so confident after his US Open win last year. But he suffered a freak accident while getting ready to pick his son up from day-care on Wednesday afternoon. “’I was wearing socks and slipped and went down the three stairs,’ Johnson said. ‘The left side of my lower back took the brunt of it and my left elbow is bruised as well.”
On the day he was still hopeful to play, arriving at the course at 12.30pm. He didn’t last long on the range, complaining of discomfort as he tried hitting easy wedges. He was advised that he could be accompanied by a physio on the course, but after taking a few practice swings he walked off saying “I was doing everything I could to try to play, but I just don’t feel like there’s any chance of me even competing.
“I want to play, more than anything. I just can’t swing the club. I’m playing the best golf of my career and this is one of my favorite tournaments of the year.” The crowds gasped as he made his decision to withdraw.
In third place, is 43 year old Lee Westwood, reeling off five birdies, as he continues his fight for a first major title.
27 year old Rory McIlroy rallied with three late birdies in a 72. The Northern Irishman has made no secret that winning the Green Jacket is his main priority. But he made a bad start to his opening round, dropping three shots without marking a birdie on the front nine.
Hoffman made an extraordinary effort, “It was the round of my career”, he said. “Obviously I’m going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing,” he said. “I look forward to it, and I look forward to the challenge the next three days.”