Day one at the Masters

We are underway, and the conditions are perfect. Fairways are immaculate and the greens are fairly moist and so are not running too fast. My guess would be stimpng around 11 (measurement system used to tell how fast greens run, 14 is about as quick as they get).

I am stationed on the TV tower behind the 10th green as usual and get to enjoy watching approach shots from all over. There were a large number of shots hit through the fairway into the right rough this year. Approach shots varied from terrific to rather poor.

For those of you that know the hole, there is a giant bunker about 120 yards yards away from the green. Until this year I have never seen anyone in it. Today there were two players that had to hit from it (Watney and Singh). Both were successful in getting on the green and so had putter out for their fourth shots, Continuing on that theme, here are today’s highlights and lowlights from the 10th hole.

Lowllights: Rickie Fowler misses the green by 25 yards to the right, landing the ball in the middle of a large azalea bush. After taking a penalty shot for an unplayable lie he hit his next shot into the green side bunker. His bunker shot left him a tough eight foot putt that he made to save double bogey (and he still finished four under par for the day).

Craig Stadler hit his approach to the right of the green side bunker and hit a poor pitch into the sand. He then hit three, yes three bunker shots before getting onto the putting surface and two putted for a Frosty (that is a snowman or an 8 for the uninitiated).

Highlights: There were a good number of birdies and great approach shots to the hole but the biggest roar was undoubtedly for the 14-year-old Chinese phenomenon, Tianlang Guan, who hit an approach from around 190 yards and had a six-foot putt for birdie that never looked like missing. The only roar that came close was a short while later when Freddie Couples rolled one in from eight feet for his birdie three.

The leaderboard is already stacked with well-known and not-so-well-known names within a few shots of the lead, and the next three days look like providing more great golf and hopefully more great weather. More from the tenth, tomorrow.

Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.