AUGUSTA, Ga. — A midday report from the first round of the Masters on Thursday:
After spending the morning with Cameron Champ, Matthew Wolff and Jason Day, the first nine was ... instructive.
Champ is hitting the ball exceptionally well. After making a birdie on the par-5 second, he hit the third fairway and left his approach at the back of the green.
Then he four-putted from 15 feet. The greens are that fast and tricky.
He birded Nos. 8 and 9 to get to 1-under, so if he had merely two-putted at No. 3, he would have been tied for the lead with Hideki Matsuyama. At 11:41 Central time, Matsuyama was tied for the lead at 3-under with Christian Bezuidenhout.
As promised, the greens are fast and firm. Wolff hit his approach to No. 7 pin-high, and the ball bounced forward and into the back bunker. He holed the bunker shot. (These guys are, actually, good.)
The weather is ideal — mostly sunny, with temperatures creeping into the 80s.
The biggest names go off late in the day. Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Cameron Smith are in the last group, at 1 p.m. Central. Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas are all in the last five groups.
Rory McIlroy still looks like he's fighting his swing. He sprayed his drive to the right on No. 3 and was 3-over after seven holes.
Seen on the course: Minnesota native Tom Lehman with his son, and a security guard confiscating a cellphone.
According to statistician Justin Ray, each of the last 15 winners of the Masters was under par in the opening round (average score: 68.6). Fourteen of the last 15 champions were in the top 10 after the first day. The exception: Tiger Woods in 2019 was tied for 11th.