Hoffman rides wind to Masters lead

Masters leader Kevin Chappell

Hoffman is familiar with playing well at Augusta National; he was in the penultimate group in the final round in 2015 but shot 74 and ended up 10 shots behind victor Jordan Spieth.

(AP Photo/Dave Martin, File). No, but if he had made his birdie putt on 18, he would have.

The 37-year-old American posted a 3-under 69 in the opening round of the Masters Thursday, a dazzling performance considering the swirling winds were gusting at more than 30 miles per hour.

McIlroy, when told about Hoffman's 65, said: "That's unbelievable".

NO NUMBER 1: Dustin Johnson was the overwhelming favorite. It's too tricky. Even when it's dry you still get mud balls in the middle of the fairway. But that's as far as Johnson got.

"A few weeks back, I sort of sat back on a week off and asked some people what I needed to do better, and asked myself what I needed to do better, and I just needed to believe a little bit more".

Johnson was still trying to digest the last 24 hours, as shocking as any for a No. 1 player going into a major. It was raining and Johnson went to move the vehicle in anticipation of his son, Tatum, coming home from day care.

He said he feels pain in his lower left back and his left elbow is swollen and bruised. "It just sucks, it really does".

"It's not easy to make putts", Rahm said.

He snatched the lead over second-placed fellow American William McGirt on a day of high drama that saw world number one Johnson pull out following a freak accident.

"From three over par through 12, you would absolutely love it if you ended up two under par".

Practice rounds resume, patrons returning to the Masters
The Masters starts on April 6, and Woods will miss the tournament for the third time in four years because of back issues. On the Saturday of the 2016 tournament, McIlroy had been alongside Spieth in the final pairing.

Rory McIlroy recovered from three early bogeys to card a first-round 72. He said in his interview that he felt he got through the round and at three-over he wasn't very happy with it. After Garcia moved within a stroke of the lead with a birdie on the ninth, Hoffman had another miscue to fall into the tie atop the leaderboard.

Three-time champion Phil Mickelson was one of eight players tied for fourth at 71. He saved two tough pars after missing the green in the wrong spots on Nos.

The winds were strong enough to blow balls into motion on Augusta's slick greens on several occasions. He made a quadruple-bogey 9 and shot 75.

SPIETH'S BIG NUMBER: For a second straight year, Jordan Spieth put up a insane number at Augusta. You didn't want to go over the green. Rahm blasted his sand shot well past the hole and made bogey. "The more I thought about it the more I thought I wasn't going to have any chance".

The biggest shot on the first day of the Masters might have been the one that was never taken.

Only 11 players broke par, the fewest since 2007. "You're just trying to make ends meet really".

The most memorable shot - take your pick, there were plenty of them - was by a 40-year-old journeyman from San Diego who seemed to be playing a different game on a different course.

He and Spain's Jon Rahm both had outstanding first shots off the tee on that par-3. His 15-foot birdie missed by an inch.

The reigning U.S. Open champion was expected to contend for a second major title.

So was does that make a 65?

Which was everything Johnson was not.

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