Whole-in-One: Friday, April 6
By Conor Nagle under The Masters

Stenson: an enigma wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in a Swede.

A trim-looking Lee Westwood performing like his former, slightly podgy self; a quadruple bogey from a Swede recently returned from the golfing wilderness; and the disqualification controversy that nearly was but shouldn’t have been: time for a quick review of the stories that made Thursday at the 76th Masters Tournament.

  • Henrik Stenson, the 2009 Players champion, looked destined for a commanding first-round lead before carding a quadruple-bogey eight at the closing hole. His post-round commentary was at odds with the tone in which it was delivered:

“I’ve got a temper, but it’s easier to walk away without changing the bag. I need my clubs.”You make a little mistake and compound it with another one… It keeps on snowballing, and I got the snowman in the end.” [LA Times]

  • Having apparently subsisted on a steady diet of weight training and protein shakes in recent months, former world No1 Lee Westwood had every right to sound content with his opening round of 67, but didn’t:

“Obviously if I sit down at the end of my career and there’s no major championship wins I’ll be disappointed… If there’s five or six I’ll be delighted. I need to drive the ball in the fairway a little bit more. That will be the key for me the next three days.”[The Telegraph]

  • Underwhelming first-round performances from pre-tournament favourites Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy deferred the epochal showdown many spent the week declaring an inevitability. Woods, who fought a snap-hook all day, bogeyed the final two holes to card a 72, while McIlroy tutted and fidgeted his way to a 71. The Northerner sounded positively Westwoodian in post-round interview:

“I felt like there was [sic] enough good shots in there to be positive over the next three days… I need to drive the ball in the fairway a little bit more, and I feel like if I can drive the ball in the fairway more, I can take advantage of that.” [Irish Times]

  • For a brief period yesterday afternoon, it looked as though Luke Donald had emulated Roberto De Vicenzo in allowing his major-winning aspirations to fall foul of dodgy arithmetic. The Englishman turned out not to be “a stupid”, however; fault lay in the quaint collision of a tournament official and rain-soaked fax. [The Guardian]

Conor Nagle