Paul Casey has enjoyed a strong of decent results at Augusta but has he got what it takes to win at 46?
MASTERS: CASEY OFF TO A FLYER AS RAIN DELAYS FIRST ROUND
Paul Casey has set the clubhouse lead at seven under par on the first day of the rescheduled 2020 Masters, which saw heavy rain leave half the field yet to complete their opening round at Augusta.
An electrical storm saw play suspended for three hours, so 45 of the 92 players did not complete their rounds. Heavy rain flooded parts of the course and left it so soft that players were able to take advantage of the benign conditions once play resumed.
Casey’s bogey-free 65 featured five birdies and an eagle and saw him finish two shots clear of those who had completed their rounds, which included Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffle, both of whom shot 67s.
Casey achieved his best major finish earlier this year when he tied for second at the US PGA Championship in August and enjoyed a blistering start at Augusta. The 43-year-old birdied his opening hole, the par-four 10th, and was four under after seven and then took the lead with an eagle at the par-five second. He hit a stunning approach to four feet and holed the putt to move to six under par, before adding another birdie at the par-three sixth. “I know this golf course better than most, my first Masters was 2004. It’s a golf course I love to play,” said Casey.
Defending champion Tiger Woods also looked back to to his best with a 68, a score matched by Lee Westwood, who is also enjoying a return to form, and Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen and 2018 champion Patrick Reed.
Pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau battled back after early struggles, which included a double bogey at the par-5 13th, to post a two-under par 70, with birdies at this final two holes (the 8th and 9th) helping his cause. “It was a little risky out there,” said the current US Open champion. “I’m OK with that. I just didn’t execute some of my shots. Clearly I didn’t have my best stuff and I was still able to shoot under par.”
With soft and slower greens, 50 of the 92 players in the field were under par when the hooter sounded to end play as darkness fell across the course at 6pm. Of those still out on the course, Justin Thomas was five under after 10 holes, while world no.1 Dustin Johnson was three under after nine. Rory McIlroy, playing with Johnson, was level par and faces a tricky bunker shot on the 10th when he returns on Friday.
Other notable rounds still in play include 21-year-old Matthew Wolff, who was runner up behind De Chambeau at the US Open. He is at four under par after 11 holes, alongside Dylan Frittelli and Adam Scott.
Justin Rose sits at three under, level with Rickie Fowler and 63-year-old two-time champion Bernhard Langer, who continues to defy his age.