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Other SportsThe Masters 2024: Scheffler one shot behind DeChambeau, 'solid start' for McIlroy

The Masters 2024: Scheffler one shot behind DeChambeau, ‘solid start’ for McIlroy

Scottie Scheffler drew within one shot of clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau by the end of a rain-shortened first day at The Masters, while Rory McIlroy felt he made a “solid start” at one under.

After heavy rain and the threat of lightning delayed the start of play by around two and a half hours on Thursday morning, it was DeChambeau who seized the initiative among the early starters.

His seven-under 65 – a career-best at Augusta National – gave him a commanding clubhouse lead, with the 2020 U.S. Open champion aided by a run of five birdies in six holes down the back nine.

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Danny Willett – winner of the 2016 edition – was the surprise name near the top of the leaderboard as he shot a four-under 68, playing his first round of golf since having shoulder surgery last September.

However, it was Scheffler who ended the day closest to DeChambeau, the world number one and tournament favourite showing ominous form with a bogey-free 66.

Speaking about the blustery conditions in Georgia, Scheffler said: “I was just going to try and stay patient and take advantage of some holes where I could.

“It’s so challenging when the winds get this high because it blows in so many different directions.”

Despite the conditions worsening as light ran out on 27 players, Nicolai Hojgaard reached five under after 15 holes, while Max Homa was one shot further back with five holes to finish on Friday morning.

It was a mixed start for McIlroy, meanwhile, with the Northern Irishman recovering from a two bogey in his first three holes to finish one under.

Birdies on the 12th and the 14th helped McIlroy finish under par after round one at The Masters for the first time since 2018. After playing himself out of this tournament early on several occasions, he was pleased to give himself a chance.

“It’s satisfying in one sense because it is a decent start compared to how I’ve played in previous years, but I felt I could have been two or three better today,” he told Sky Sports.

“It’s a good start, it’s a solid start. I’m not out of the tournament and I don’t think I’m chasing anything tomorrow.

“I’m playing with Scottie, who is obviously one of the leaders, so I’ll keep an eye on him and see what he’s doing.”

McIlroy has spoken about the need to adopt a more patient approach at this year’s tournament, and that was on his mind on Thursday.

“I felt like I did a good job of it” he continued. “I stuck to my gameplan and didn’t start to chase it. With the way the conditions were today, you had to stay patient and be as disciplined as possible.

“I think anything under par today was a decent score. I will rue the last four holes, I could have got a little more out of it, but I’m pretty happy.”

Tiger Woods was level with McIlroy with five holes remaining when play was suspended at 19:51 local time, but it was a poor start for 2023 champion Jon Rahm, whose bid to defend his crown was dented by a one-over 73.

The first round will resume at 07:50 local time on Friday (12:50 BST) with the last group having eight holes to finish, with the second round getting under way shortly afterwards.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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