Augusta, GA, United States (4E Sports) – Bill Haas fired a 4-under-par 68 to take a one-stroke lead over three players in the first round of the Masters Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.
This marked the first time that Haas, a five-time PGA Tour winner, has broken 70 in 17 career rounds at the par-72 7,435-yard course.
Haas, the 2011 FedExCup champ, opened with a bogey but bounced back with birdies in the second and fourth holes before saving par in the fifth hole.
He then played the rest of the round in 3-under to take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson, who shot identical 69s.
“I easily could have still been 1 over,” Haas said about his first five holes. “The putter kind of saved me and settled me down.”
Haas, the reigning AT&T National champion, ran off five consecutive pars from the eighth to remain near the lead.
Then, Haas grabbed the lead with birdies at 13th and 14th. He bogeyed the 17th but recovered with a 5-foot birdie putt in the final hole for a one-stroke lead.
“I made some nice putts. A couple 20-footers to go in that sometimes you’re happy to 2-putt, so to have those go in can swing your score one way or the other,” said Haas.
Scott opened with birdies on the first, sixth and eighth and gained the lead with another birdie on the 10th. However, disaster struck when he found water in the 12th that led to a double-bogey.
“That was a nice way to end the day and not walk off shooting 70,” Scott said.
Jimmy Walker, KJ. Choi, Brandt Snedeker and Marc Leishman shot identical 70s to settle in a tie for fifth, two strokes behind Haas.
Meanwhile, Craig and Kevin Stadler made history as the first father-son duo to compete in the Masters but had different results to show.
Kevin carded a 2-under 70 to sit inside the top five while Craig posted a 10-over 82 and is a shot off the worst score of the day.