No. 1 Johnson, Frittelli match Casey for Masters lead

Jim SLATER
·4-min read
World number one Dustin Johnson birdied the 18th hole Friday to grab a share of the lead after the storm-hit opening round of the 84th Masters
World number one Dustin Johnson birdied the 18th hole Friday to grab a share of the lead after the storm-hit opening round of the 84th Masters

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson and South African Dylan Frittelli grabbed a share of the lead after Friday's conclusion of the storm-hit first round of the Masters while Rory McIlroy struggled to make the cut.

They matched England's Paul Casey by shooting seven-under-par 65 in concluding their darkness-halted opening rounds at storm-hit Augusta National before returning to the rain-softened layout for round two.

"To continue to play is definitely a nice advantage," Johnson said. "We know how the course is playing and we'll finish our round today. It's nice. I'm on a good roll."

Johnson, trying to become the first world number one to win the Masters since Woods in 2002, eagled the par-5 second and birdied the par-5 eighth on Thursday, then added birdies Friday at the par-3 12th, par-5 15th and par-3 16th.

He sank a five-foot birdie putt at 18 to match the lead, completing his lowest of 35 Masters rounds and his first bogey-free one.

The lanky American missed two planned Masters tuneups after testing positive for Covid-19 last month but was a runner-up last week in Houston in his tour return.

Back-nine starter Frittelli, never in the top 30 in nine prior majors, birdied the second and par-3 sixth after going five-under over the first 10 holes.

The world number 100, a 30-year-old from Johannesburg, curled in a five-foot par save at the fifth and a six-foot birdie putt at six but came up short on a 10-foot birdie putt at nine for the lead alone.

"I definitely think it's an advantage," Frittelli said of his short turnaround. "I'm playing well now. I want to keep the ball rolling."

Darkness halted the first round on Thursday with 44 golfers still on the course.

Rain-softened Augusta National surrendered the lowest opening-round scoring average in Masters history, 71.43 strokes, with a projected cut at one-under.

There were a 53 players under par in round one and 24 scores in the 60s, both records for any round in Masters history. The old mark for sub-par players was 47 in round two in 1992.

But fifth-ranked McIlroy, seeking a green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam, stumbled to an opening 75 to share 77th and needed a fightback just to reach the weekend.

The four-time major champion opened Thursday with a bogey, birdied the par-5 eighth, but blasted out of a bunker at 10 Friday on the way to another bogey, found deep bushes in the left trees on the way to bogey at 13 and lipped-out on a six-foot par putt at 14.

Third-ranked Justin Thomas missed a short birdie putt on 18 and settled for a 66 to share fourth with South Korea's Im Sung-jae. The 2017 PGA Championship winner was 5-under through 10 holes when play was halted.

Thomas never shot better than a 73 in four prior Masters opening rounds.

Im, a 22-year-old making his Masters debut, rolled in four birdies in a row to reach five-under after 10 and another at 16 left him in the top five.

England's Justin Rose, the reigning Olympic champion, and Australian Cameron Smith joined Americans Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele on 67.

Defending champion Tiger Woods was in a 10th-place pack sitting another stroke back after an opening 68, the 15-time major winner and five-time Masters champion matching his best-ever start at Augusta National.

It was his first bogey-free Masters round since 2008 and in any major since 2009.

Woods, who turns 45 next month, could match the record six green jackets won by Jack Nicklaus and break the US PGA title record of 82 he shares with Sam Snead.

Casey, Woods and Thursday's other finishers looked at afternoon starts with no chance to complete their second rounds before sunset.

- Langer shoots 68 -

Among those on 68 was Germany's 63-year-old Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters champion.

Langer, whose 1993 Masters triumph was the last major captured with a wooden driver, shared eighth at the Masters as recently as 2014.

Together with 62-year-old 1987 Masters winner Larry Mize opening on 70, it marked the first time in major golf history two players over 60 broke par.

Australia's Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion, was 4-under through 10 but a bad bounce off the 15th green sent his ball into Rae's Creek on the way to a double bogey and a bogey at 18 left him on 70.

The Masters was postponed from its usual April date by the Covid-19 pandemic, which also forced a ban on spectators as a safety precaution.

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