Share this article

print logo


Chris DiMarco birdied his opening hole today and held a one-shot lead at 5-under-par 67 for his first round at the Masters, where top-ranked Vijay Singh was making a charge.

DiMarco, looking for his first major title, made a birdie-2 on the 15th hole of his round at Augusta National Golf Club, where rain delayed Thursday's start by more than five hours and forced officials to start rounds from the first and 10th tees. DiMarco started on No. 6 today.

Play resumed today under cloudy skies. Thunderstorms were forecast for this afternoon.

Singh, the 2000 winner in Augusta, was at 4-under with three holes to play in the first round, making birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 after a bogey on No. 11. He was tied with Luke Donald, an English member of last year's European Ryder Cup team, who was in the clubhouse at 68.

Defending champ Phil Mickelson birdied the 12th hole and bogeyed the 14th to stand 2-under with three holes left. Tiger Woods, who putted into Rae's Creek on Thursday, had two birdies and two bogeys today and finished at 2-over 74.

Players who finished Thursday were beginning the second round. David Howell was 3 under after four holes after an even-par opening round. Kirk Triplett also was 3 under through four and even par for the tournament.

Things got off to a wacky start Thursday. Billy Casper hit five shots into the water on one hole and took a 14, the highest score on any hole. He made history, but not the record books, because after adding up his score of 106, he decided not to turn it in.

David Toms was standing over a putt on the 14th hole when a gust blew it back into the fairway.

Ernie Els spent more time in the trees than in the fairway.

About the only thing that restored some semblance of order Thursday at Augusta National was the rain -- and having Mickelson, Singh and Retief Goosen on the leader board.

It is the fourth straight week, and ninth time out of 15 tournaments this year, that bad weather has delayed a round.

DiMarco played with Mickelson last year and even gave Lefty the right line on the winning putt.

When told about Woods' misfortunes -- an eagle putt that went off the green and into the water, an approach that hit the pin and went into the bunker -- DiMarco shrugged.

"He's got a few good breaks over his career," DiMarco said. "So you know what? Darn. It's golf."

Mark Hensby of Australia was one of only 24 players who finished the first round, and his hard-earned 69 showed that Augusta National doesn't have to be firm and fast to be punishing.

"You can play good shots and get rewarded, and then you can hit good shots and not get rewarded," he said.

Trying to hold down his No. 1 ranking, Singh was a model of consistency in a first round that was out of whack before players even arrived at Augusta National. Along with picking up three birdies on the front nine, Singh twice saved par with 10-foot putts. His only bogey came on the 11th hole, a three-putt from about 100 feet, missing a 5-footer for par.

"I played pretty well," Singh said. "I hit my driver beautifully and had some good saves. It was just disappointing how I finished. Maybe I should have waited . . . on the second putt from 5 feet. But who knows? I may have missed it tomorrow."

Mickelson was all smiles when he stepped to the first tee, looking very much the way he did when he left the Masters last year wearing a green jacket. He opened with a bogey but kept mostly himself out of trouble and gave himself ample birdie chances.

He chipped in for birdie on No. 2, stuck a wedge inside 4 feet on the third and twice made pars with beautiful lag putts to within 3 feet, including his final hole at No. 11.

Goosen, the forgotten figure in all the hype over the "Big Four," made a rare birdie on the par-3 12th, then recovered from a tee shot into the azaleas on the par-5 13th to escape with par.

It wasn't the fast, fiery course most players wanted, conditions that have not been around for the Masters since the course was supersized three years ago. Based on the scoring, they might be thankful for the rain.

Even with the greens soft and holding approach shots, only 10 of the 92 players were under par, and already there were five scores at 80 or higher among those who finished.

Woods hasn't broken par in the first round of the Masters since he won in 2002, and he was headed for higher numbers this year -- some of that because of bad shots and bad judgment, some from sheer bad luck.

He reached the par-5 13th in two with a risky shot out of the pines, leaving him a 70-foot eagle putt. But he misjudged the speed so badly that the ball raced by the hole, tumbled down the bank and went into Rae's Creek. Woods left the ball there, replayed the putt and fared much better, two-putting for a bogey.

He looked as though he might get that shot back when his approach into No. 1 descended on the flag, but Woods turned away in shock when it hit the bottom of the pin and spun off to the side into a bunker, turning birdie into bogey.