AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Sungjae Im (-5), of South Korea, shot an opening round 67 to take the first round lead Thursday at The Masters. Im, the runner-up at the 2020 Masters, led by one over Cameron Smith (-4) of Australia, who has three top-ten finishes in four Masters appearances.
“It was great to have a great finish at my Masters debut (in 2020), and because of that experience I feel comfortable when I come to Augusta. I feel like I can play well here every time,” Im said through an interpreter. “My preparation stays the same for each tournament, but I felt like my driving game was not as up to par as what it used to be, so I worked on my driving, and today the key to a successful round was having good tee shots, so that worked well today.”
The day began with two-time champion Tom Watson joining six-time champion Jack Nicklaus and three-time champion Gary Player as honorary starters shortly after 8 a.m.
Five-time champion Tiger Woods (-1), playing in his first tournament since the 2020 November Masters, shot 71 just 14 months after the car crash that nearly cost him his left leg. He was four behind the leader Im.
“I am as sore as I expected to feel, but it was amazing to have — like I was telling the team all week, come game time, it will be a different deal,” Woods said. “My adrenaline will kick in. I’ll get into my own little world, and I’ll get after it. It’s about the training that we’ve done to have the stamina to go.”
“I’m going to be sore, yes. That’s just the way it is. But the training cycles that we’ve had to make sure that I have the stamina to keep going — and this is only one round. We’ve got three more to go. There’s a long way to go and a lot of shots to be played.”
It was a disappointing day for the competitors from the Augusta area. Luke List (+5), who has lived in Augusta for the last four years and is playing in The Masters for the first time since 2005, shot 77 after a double bogey at No. 18.
“I was really excited to go play today,” List said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have my swing today. That’s usually one of my strengths, so I was scrambling around, and that’s not fun to do on this golf course. I did pretty well for the most part, but like I said, I need a good round tomorrow.”
Aiken’s Kevin Kisner (+3) shot 75, while Augusta native and 1987 champion Larry Mize (+5) carded a 77.
After Friday’s second round the field will be cut down to the top 50 players, plus ties. Patron gates are expected to open shortly after 7 a.m. on Friday.