Thursday, April 10, 2008

In a scene you see more often at  your local muni than at a major championship, Lee Westwood, Camilo Villegas and Aaron Baddeley finished their opening round of the Masters in near darkness with the moon high overhead and the headlights of cars shining in the distance. Baddeley2_300 The threesome's race against the dying of the light was one of the most dramatic matches off the day. They started an hour late at 3:02 p.m. due to morning fog. At the green on 13, they putted in the shadows with the first cool breeze coming off Rae's Creek, and a gallery guard (unofficially) said he didn't think there was any way they'd finish. Before they played 18, Augusta officials actually gave them the option of finishing the round first thing in the morning, but Westwood said he, Villegas and Baddely decided they wanted to "get it finished because it can be quite cool in the morning." It's possible that the warm glow of Baddeley's lime-green pants helped them forge on into the night. Whatever the case, they walked off the 18th green at 8:15 p.m.Westwood, who finished the day tied for third at three-under, said the threesome didn't play any faster than normal. He's right that they often waited for the group before them, but the guys didn't waste any time walking from the tee to their second shot -- keeping up with them was more double-time march than PGA Tour saunter.
Westwood also said that the darkening skies and apparently rushed pace of play didn't affect his play. It sure didn't affect his tee shots, but he did miss makeable putts for birdie on 14 and eagle on 15. He also three-putted 17; however, he said that he was surprised by the break and not the darkness. (Villegas [+1] and Baddeley [+2] both made bogey on a really dark 18th green after missing short putts, but they didn't stop to take questions after the round.)
Westwood said he felt very comfortable with his best Masters round in nine years. He might even like tomorrow's better: he has a 10:56 a.m. tee time. (Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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