Tour Confidential: What Was the Biggest Surprise About Round 1?

Friday April 8th, 2016
Jason Day got off to a hot start on Thursday, but he stumbled on the back nine.
Fred Vuich

What did we learn after the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club? Well, Jordan Spieth hasn't lost his Masters form, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy have a little work to do after dropping a few shots late and Ernie Els had some trouble with the flat stick.

But what surprised us most after the first round of the 80th Masters? Our panel answers. Join the conversation and leave your picks in the comments below or tweet us at @golf_com.

What, or who, surprised you most about the first round of the Masters?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: The back-9 blowups of two favorites, Bubba and JDay. Both were off to strong starts and then frittered it away. Each could play his way back into contention but it will take three very strong rounds.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Rory's finish. He gets to four under after an eagle and a birdie on the back-nine par-5s, then makes a pair of careless bogeys coming home. Like that, he falls four back of Spieth. These are the type of mistakes we've seen far too often from McIlroy at Augusta National; it may come back to haunt him on Sunday.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I miss Fred. I don't miss Tiger, but a Thursday at Augusta without Fred on the board seems wrong.

MORE: Jordan Spieth Playing at a High Level at Augusta Once Again

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor, SI Golf Group: Ernie Els six-putted from two feet, and I never want to watch it again. (OK, maybe just one more time…)

Josh Sens, contributor, GOLF.com: Surprise is too gentle a word for the gut-shot shock of Ernie Els' six-putt. Ouch. That was painful. On the upside, those of us who have never played Augusta now know what it would look like if we did.

Ernie Els six-putted the first green for a 9 and finished with an 8-over 80.
Getty Images

Alan Bastable, executive editor, GOLF.com: C'mon now, y'all, it's gotta be Rickie. An 80?!

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, GOLF Magazine: It was stunning and sad to see Ernie Els six-putt the first green for a 9. I've never seen that happen to a player of his caliber, and I can only assume there's something happening with his vision or his equilibrium or both. No one wants to see a guy go through that, especially not a guy as decent as Ernie Els. All things considered his 80 was strangely commendable. Here's hoping there's a fast cure for the four-time major winner.

Jessica Marksbury, associate editor, GOLF Magazine: Rickie Fowler's back-nine meltdown was really surprising to me. I had him pegged as a contender this week, and now, he'll need a stellar performance on Friday to just make the cut--a definite bummer for fans who were looking forward to an exciting weekend featuring ALL the members of the new "Fab Four."

Josh Berhow, staff producer, GOLF.com: I'm surprised that more people, myself included, didn’t pick Jordan Spieth to just absolutely roll again in this tournament. Sure, he was a favorite, but so many people were picking Day or Bubba or Scott and perhaps overanalyzed; but sometimes it is so simple. He was T2 two years ago and won last year. Why wouldn’t he come out and do this again? He is a long way from repeating as champ, but he’s certainly off to a good start.

Sean Zak, assistant editor, GOLF.com: Danny Lee showing up and showing off. Six birdies in a relatively late tee time dealing with the windy conditions. Remember, he has some bad memories of Augusta National, playing it back in 2009 after winning the 2008 U.S. Amateur. He shot 74-81 that year. He showed up here Thursday of LAST week and he's shown the ability to work it both ways. Don't be shocked if he catches Jordan at 6-under before the Golden Child even tees off Friday.

Marika Washchyshyn, multimedia producer, GOLF.com: Rickie Fowler’s 80. We knew the wind was probably going to be an issue for some players, like Bubba Watson, but Rickie has generally faired well in not-so-fair-weather play. Surprising yes, but shocking? Maybe not. The opening double certainly didn’t help his mental game, but with that and the triple in your head, plus the elements, I’m not sure you’d say it was as surprising an 80 as it could have been. Golf is not easy.

Peter Bukowski, associate editor, GOLF.com: Jason Day spitting the bit. The favorite, the No. 1 player in the world, the late tee time, he goes out and shoots 31 on the front nine and it looks like we’re going to have a classic duel between Day and Jordan Spieth. Instead a slew of sloppy mistakes to close his round has Day well back. It wasn’t even Amen Corner or some of the historically difficult holes. These were simple errors that you don’t expect to see Jason Day make.

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