It was a very exciting first day, and it’s still extremely wide open. Adam Scott and Rory McIlory both played very well, but everyone’s just jockeying for position. The course is in great shape, and there’s not a breath of wind, so I thought the scores would be lower, but as Rory explained after his round, the pin placements are very tough. At Augusta, they can get you to score almost exactly what they want you to score. They can adjust the course where you’ve got to play your heart out to break 280, which really shows you what a great golf course it is. Rory was right. Anything around 70 on the first day is a good score.
For example, if you look at Phil Mickelson on No. 7, he was just off the green in two, and he took five to get down! Before he chipped, I said, “Whoa, that’s too hard,” because you’ve got to leave that short. Once you get past the hole, it never stops. He was doing so well, but now he’ll have to be aggressive or he won’t be around on the weekend. You have to play conservatively on the first day when the flags are near the edges of the greens. You might think it favors a strong irons player like Phil, but this golf course doesn’t like anybody. It’s like a mousetrap: they put cheese in it, enticing you all the time. But now he has to go if he wants to win the tournament, not just make the cut, and that’s why you’re playing, after all. I’ve placed second in the Masters three times and only my wife and my dog know about it.
But what great rounds for Fred Couples (71) and Bernhard Langer (72)! I’ve always said someone will win the Masters at 50. A few people have already come very close. If Couples puts the ball on the green with his 7-iron on No. 11 and 8-iron on No. 12, I think he has a chance to win. The senior tour is tough! I always tell people my greatest achievement in golf was winning the senior Grand Slam and not the regular Grand Slam, because you’ve got to do it when you’re past 50, so you’ve gotta be in shape, and when I was 50, I was in as good shape as I was when I was 25.
Which reminds me: did you see that tee shot? I flushed it! Jack hit his flush too, 10 yards short of mine, and it just ran one yard by me. I beat him on the Par 3 yesterday and today he beat me off the drive, so we’re equal, but now I’m really pumped to increase my weights during training. I’m gonna whack it right by him next year! And how about Arnold? He hit his drive about 150 yards, which is not bad when you’re 84 years old. Pretty damn good, actually!
Gary Player will be sharing his thoughts on the Masters and recounting his adventures at Augusta National for Golf.com throughout the week. You can follow him @garyplayer.