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Bryson DeChambeau leads weather-delayed first round of Augusta Masters

Bryson DeChambeau birdied five of six holes during a stretch on the back nine to lead the weather-delayed first round of the Masters on Thursday in Augusta, Ga.

DeChambeau shot 7-under-par 65 for his lowest score at Augusta National Golf Club. He’s one stroke in front of 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler.

“It’s always great getting off to a hot start — 3 under through the first three holes kind of gets you settled,” DeChambeau said. “I knew it was going to be a tough day today with the wind and even (Friday), so a lot of patience is required around this golf course and making sure you’re just stroking on your line.”

Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard, 23, chipped in from the fringe for birdies on Nos. 7 and 12 to reach 5 under. He has three holes to finish in the round.

There was a 2 1/2-hour weather delay before the first round of the 88th edition of the tournament finally began in late morning. Numerous golfers will have to complete their first rounds Friday morning after play was suspended shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday.

Among those is Max Homa, who’s 4 under through 13 holes.

Englishman Danny Willett finished at 4-under 68. Ryan Fox of New Zealand, Cam Davis of Australia and Tyrrell Hatton of England are tied at 3 under. Hatton has four holes to finish in the round.

The first birdie of the tournament was posted by Willett on the first hole.

“Two good shots and a lovely putt there kind of settles the nerves a little bit,” said Willett, the 2016 Masters winner who later rolled in a putt of more than 15 feet for birdie on the final hole.

DeChambeau’s 65 matched his lowest round in a major, which he achieved in the 2021 British Open. He rolled in eight birdies to go with one bogey on Thursday.

“My game has progressed,” he said. “I’ve tried to be a little bit smarter out there on the golf course and not try to go for broke and go for every flag, but place it in the right position.”

Eight years ago on this course, DeChambeau finished the tournament as the top amateur, but he has bigger goals now.

“I love this golf course, love the patrons, love the members, love the golf course conditions,” he said. “Everything about it. It’s something I’ve dreamed of always winning my entire life.”

Scheffler had birdies on four of five holes on the back nine in a bogey-free round. His was the only bogey-free round completed when play was suspended.

“I did a good job of staying patient,” Scheffler said. “We kept the golf course in front of us. And, I mean, I executed some really nice up-and-downs to keep the round going.”

Fox sank a long eagle putt on the par-5 eighth for the early lead at 5 under. He was without a bogey until No. 13.

The first golfer to complete an under-par round was Erik van Rooyen of South Africa at 1 under, though he was 4 under through 13 before struggling down the stretch.

“Overall, I played fantastic,” van Rooyen said. “I made one poor swing, and that was on 17.”

Defending champion Jon Rahm of Spain teed off in the afternoon, finishing at 1-over 73 despite playing the first nine holes in 2 under.

“It’s not easy. You’re not really having the luxury out there of being able to miss shots, especially tee shots,” Rahm said. “Unfortunately, on that back nine, I missed a few too many shots.”

Will Zalatoris, the 2021 Masters runner-up, had a chip-in from less than 10 yards off the green to save par on the fifth hole. He finished at 2 under.

He withdrew from the Masters last year shortly before his first-round tee time with a back injury. He tied for sixth in 2022.

“It’s hard not to be grateful being here, but I’m even more grateful now,” Zalatoris said.

Five-time champion Tiger Woods had his tee time pushed back from 1:24 p.m. to 3:54 p.m., so he has five holes to finish in the round. He birdied the first hole and is 1 under through 13 holes in a partial round that included clutch par-saving putts.

Other notable names at 1 under included Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Viktor Hovland of Norway, Cameron Smith of Australia, Matt Fitzpatrick of England, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau, all of whom completed rounds of 71.

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