Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Masters in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: What was the biggest surprise from Day 1 at Augusta?
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: The world no. 1 shooting 78. We know he doesn’t play a draw, but geez. It should have been a red flag when he said earlier in the week that he wished he was left-handed.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Alvaro Quiros.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Martin Kaymer. The world’s No. 1 player didn’t shoot trombones (76). He didn’t shoot Sunset Strip (77). He posted an old vinyl recording—78. He’ll have to shoot 66 just to make the cut. He’s likely down the road. That’s a big belly flop. Second biggest surprise was Graeme McDowell, the great clutch putter, last in putting stats with 36 putts.
Paul Mahoney, contributing writer, Golf Magazine: Kaymer’s 78 was not a surprise. He said weeks ago he couldn’t hit a draw. What was a surprise was that he only realized today that he should pick Bernhard Langer’s brain. Maybe he should also put two drivers in his bag like Phil in ’06. Vorsprung durch technik, as they say in San Diego.
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: The back nines turned in by the final threesome of Quiros, Woodland and Vegas. Nerves? What nerves? Two Masters rookies and a guy who hadn’t broken 75 at Augusta put on a show and looked like they were having the time of their lives. It was the shot in the arm that the game has been looking for.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: I’m not shocked that Rory McIlroy went low Thursday, but I don’t think anyone saw a 65 coming from Alvaro Quiros. His best round at Augusta National before today was a 75!
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Kaymer’s 78 on one of the easiest scoring days in recent Masters history. That, and how low-key and relaxed Rory McIlroy was after his round. Kid has grown up a lot since that 80 at the Old Course.
Gorant: Personally, I’d have to go with a pair of three-unders: Sergio and Gary Woodland. I know it’s only one round, but I didn’t think Sergio had put it all together yet, and I wouldn’t have thought Woodland was capable of making up six shots (eagle, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie) on the final six holes – nasty.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I was most surprised by the number of players—24—who broke par (72). It was windy. The greens were crusty. The course played fast. If you are an 85 shooter you would never in a million years break 100 playing the course that Alvaro Q. and the Gang played on Thursday. But two dozen posted 71 or better. There has to be more golf talent today than ever.
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Sergio Garcia. And we thought the Euros would be tough with Kaymer, Westwood, McDowell, Casey …
Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Alvaro Quiros firing a 65. I watched him play those last six or seven holes, and for whatever reason, I was a little surprised when I saw the 65. Probably because I didn’t think anyone else would match McIlroy. Also, Gary Woodland coming back from three over through 12 to finish three under for the day. Impressive to watch him play the last six holes six under!
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Gotta go with Alvaro’s 65. He hits it a mile, yes, but it takes discipline to shoot that score at Augusta National. I will be curious to see if he can back it up with another good one tomorrow.
Alan Bastable, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I wasn’t particularly surprised by Henrik Stenson’s 83, but I was surprised that he was in the field. A colleague had to remind me that he’s here on account of his win at the 2009 Players. For all the grief we give Sergio for plummeting down the rankings, Stenson’s decline is stunning in its own right. The Swede was No. 4 in the world five years ago. Now he’s threatening to drop out of the top 100.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: How hard Tiger’s 71 looked, and how easy all those birdies and eagles looked in the Quiros, Vegas and Woodland group.