The Masters day one sees Marc Leishman lead the Australian challenge, as England’s Justin Rose hits the front by ABC News .AU

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A golfer stares towards the flag as he hits a chip shot toward the green on day one at the Masters.
Marc Leishman had four birdies after eight holes, but he was forced to scramble for the rest of day one at Augusta.  (AP: Matt Slocum)

Marc Leishman is no stranger to wild swings at the Masters. 

And the Victorian is certainly in the middle of one as the Australian tilt at the 85th Masters struggles in tough conditions at Augusta National, with Englishman Justin Rose leading the tournament at 7-under in the latter stages of day one.

Key points:

  • None of the five Australians are under par on day one of the 85th Masters at Augusta
  • Marc Leishman got to 4-under at one stage, but he finished at even par after a round of 72, seven shots behind clubhouse leader Justin Rose
  • Northern Ireland star Rory McIlroy had a day to forget, shooting 4-over 76 and hitting his father in the leg with an errant shot 

Despite an incredible start from Leishman, none of the five Australians were under par late in the opening round of the 2021 edition, but they weren’t alone as rock-hard greens and blustery winds returned the teeth to Augusta National.

There was a little bit of deja vu for Leishman. In 2014 he came out firing in the second round with three quick birdies taking him to the tournament lead. Incredibly he would then drop 10 shots in the next 12 holes to ultimately miss the cut.

It wasn’t quite as bad this time around.

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus’ ceremonial tee shots get the 85th Masters— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 8, 2021

Leishman’s first six holes on Thursday (local time) yielded four birdies, some of which were as good as you’ll see on the hallowed turf. But after a couple of pars he added four bogeys between the ninth and 14th holes.

He continued to battle away to finish at even par to pace the Australians, with Matt Jones next best after he fought back with two late birdies to shoot a two-over 74 in the second group of the day.

“I came home strong. I made a couple of mistakes out there, but it’s getting windy so it’s going to be very tough this afternoon for these guys,” Jones said in his first Masters appearance since his debut seven years ago.

“I would have liked to have played a few better than 74, but I don’t think it’s going to be too bad overall.”

Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, was still trying to claw something out of his round as he made the turn.

He was 2-over through 10 holes.

Cameron Smith, the 2020 Masters runner-up, was four-over through nine, while former world number one Jason Day could muster no better than a five-over 77 and is well off the pace.

A golfer carries a club as he walks past colourful flowers on the way to the green at Augusta.
Justin Rose kept his focus as he made a stunning run up the Masters leaderboard on day one.(AP: Charlie Riedel)

Justin Rose makes eagle at the par-5 8th hole. #themasters— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 8, 2021

Later in the day, Rose took the lead thanks to a run where he gained six shots in as many holes starting with an eagle at the eighth.

He went from 2-over to 4-under, and then birdied the par-five 15th before a perfect tee-shot on the famous 16th left him with a 3 metre birdie putt, which he dropped.

By the time he birdied the 17th as well he had established a four-shot break on the field. He finished with a 7-under 65.

Among the favourites, defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson was even par through his opening 16 holes, before a double-bogey on the last left him with a 74.

Big-hitting Bryson deChambeau had a horror start to be 4-over after 15, Patrick Reed had a 1-under par 71, while Spain’s Jon Rahm — who arrived late at Augusta after the birth of his first child on the weekend — had an even par 72.

Rory hits dad with errant shot

A golfer stares down the fairway after hitting his drive on day one of the Masters.
It was a rough opening round for Rory McIlroy at Augusta, but his dad had an even more painful day.(AP: Charlie Riedel)

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy didn’t get off on the right foot in the opening round.

Rory McIlroy hit his dad with an errant approach shot on No. 7 during the first round of #theMasters— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 8, 2021

In fact, he capped a sequence in which he recorded three straight bogeys by striking his father, Gerry, on the leg with an errant approach shot on the seventh hole.

Gerry McIlroy was unharmed and even quick with a joke, telling reporters: “I should ask for an autograph.”

The younger McIlroy unintentionally has provided a source of comedy with some of his recent misfires.

4-over in Round 1.

Rory McIlroy hopes to continue this trend into the weekend.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 8, 2021

Lest we forget when McIlroy took on water on March 24 at the World Golf Championships Match Play event in Austin, Texas.

The four-time major champion’s tee shot on the fifth hole sailed wide left at Austin Country Club, bounded off the cart path and bounced over a fence before resting in a nearby swimming pool.

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