The Masters: Rahm overturns horror start to tie Koepka and Hovland for first-round lead

(CNN) No golfer on record has ever birdied the first hole twice Masters He went to wear a green jacket.

But still John Rahm A man on a mission to rewrite history Augusta National.

After four-putting the opening hole, the Spaniard roared back to shoot a seven-under 65 on Thursday and tied with Victor Hovland. Brooks Koepka Top of the first round leaderboard.

Seven birdies and an eagle on the eighth hole saw Rahm card the lowest 18-hole score in Masters history by a player with a double bogey or a worse opening, with 554 golfers previously affected. ESPN stats and info.

Rahm overcame a terrible start.

Chasing his second major title after winning the US Open in 2021, the world no. 3, he won at every fairway to name the first-three major rounds of his career.

“If you’re going to make a double or a four-putt or anything, it’s probably the first hole,” Rahm told reporters.

“After that, I just focused on making sure all the strokes were good, the reads were good, the roll was good. Obviously the first couple of putts were off the pace, so I admitted there was nothing really. Look, I got to work and I had 17 holes.”

Hovland rose to early honors off a blistering start, draining an eagle on the second hole and making a birdie-birdie on the front nine to take a two-shot lead at the turn.

The Norwegian, who had never broken 70 before at Augusta National, carded a bogey-free round to match the lowest score of his major championship career. The 25-year-old’s previous best came At the Open Championship Last year, he was in a duel for the top spot with Rory McIlroy when his third-round 66 sent him into the final day.

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His bid for a first major at St Andrews ultimately fizzled out, but Hovland believes he is in a better place nine months on.

“It’s one of those days where I just don’t have it,” Hovland told reporters.

“It’s not like a mental error. But I feel like my skills are a lot better now, and I think I’d like to play again that Sunday, this week, for example. That would have been a lot. Fun.”

Hovland escapes a bunker shot on the 18th hole.

Koepka made it a three-way tie with a superb performance in his eighth Masters start. The 32-year-old is a four-time major winner but has yet to win a green jacket, finishing second in 2019.

LIV Golf Star Be open about frustrations Along with his form, the struggles were worsened by a number of injuries, but he returned to full fitness at Augusta.

“It’s been a long time since everything felt normal,” Koepka told reporters.

“Being able to comfortably read a putz, just little things like that. Being able to squat normally, it’s a big, big difference.”

Koepka bogeys the 12th hole.

Amateur hour

Cameron Young and Jason Day lead the chasing pack, two strokes behind the leading trio, while defending champion Scotty Scheffler sits a further shot back.

Six golfers are world no. 1 ranking, but one name stands out among them all: Sam Bennett.

The 22-year-old amateur tore through the blocks and followed it up with a birdie on the second hole. After a second birdie at the sixth, the American sank 12 straight pars and became the only amateur in the last 30 years to record a bogey-free round at a major.

Bennett chips in for eagle on the second hole.

Bennett is living the dream, playing the holes he used to play in video games. But make no mistake, he’s not just at Augusta for the experience.

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“It’s unbelievable,” Bennett told reporters. “Playing the Masters at Augusta is a dream come true. I’m just soaking it all in.

I feel prepared and got some good work. Being an amateur is fun. I’m going to have fun. I’m not here to treat it like a win and a laugh. I have come here to compete and test my game.”

Fellow amateur Matthew McClean — an optometrist from Northern Ireland — got off to a fairytale start, temporarily leading the field after two birdies in his first four holes. However, double bogeys at the seventh and 17th respectively marred a bright start as McLean finished the day on five-over 78.

Alas for Woods and McIlroy

It was a rough start McIlroy’s pursuit of a career Grand SlamThe Northern Irishman returned to the clubhouse for an even-par 72 on the 37th.

McIlroy remains an elusive green jacket after becoming just the sixth player to win all four majors, but has struggled for momentum in his opening round. Back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes seemed to spur McIlroy to a strong finish after a painful double bogey at the seventh, only for his third bogey of the day to drop him back into even.

Before the match, Tiger Woods said it would be just that “A Matter of Time” Before McIlroy won at Augusta. Woods’ five Masters wins make him second only to Jack Nicklaus, but any hope the 47-year-old could match this week’s record looks dim after he opened with a two-over 74.

Woods heads into Friday’s second round of 54, which will determine the 50 golfers and ties that will make the cut over the weekend. The first golfers will tee off at 7:30 a.m. ET (12:30 p.m. BST), the time moved forward 30 minutes due to expectations of inclement weather.

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