2020 Masters Live Updates: Tiger Woods near the lead after bogey-free first round

Welcome, golf fans, to one of the greatest days of the year. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player started the 84th Masters with ceremonial tee shots around 6:45 a.m. ET on Thursday, and the first tee times (off both tees) begin shortly after 7 a.m., before a three-hour weather delay paused the action.

Refresh this page often for the latest updates at the 2020 Masters. The newest items will be at the top.

Masters 2020 quick links

How to watch and stream the Masters
Expert picks: Favorites and sleepers
Tee times: See when the stars tee off
Inside Tiger’s Wednesday practice round
Browse Masters-themed gear in our Pro Shop
3 Top 100 Teachers on how players prep for Augusta
See the coolest custom gear made for the Masters

Tiger in the hunt early at four under

Don’t look now, but Tiger Woods is back, folks. Taking advantage of optimal scoring conditions, Tiger cruised to four birdies and no bogeys through his first 10 holes. His distance control with the irons was impeccable and even he admitted to roll the ball beautifully with the putter. This is precisely how Woods has played his best, in-contention golf over his late-career run. Great iron play, solid driver play, great putting.

“I did everything well today,” Woods said later. “There’s nothing I think I did poorly.” Hard to argue with him. Woods made a bunch of easy pars on his way in Thursday afternoon. Here’s how the scoreboard looked from the opening half of the field.

Paul Casey separates from the pack with opening 65

Paul Casey has played some beautiful golf in 2020, and he’s continued that trend at the year’s final major. With a savvy eagle on the par-5 2nd, the 43-year-old became the first golfer of the week to get to seven under, and that’s exactly where he finished.

Casey has always had a knack for playing well at Augusta, with five top 10s in 13 starts, but with father time working against him, he’ll need to take advantage this year if he hopes to claim his first major. “I know the slopes around here pretty well,” Casey told ESPN later. He certainly does.

Recall that Casey struggled mightily at the 2019 Masters. He began that event with five bogeys, two doubles and carded an 81 with no birdies. This year it’s five birdies and one eagle for a 65.

Late crowd will restart early Friday

Justin Thomas was feeling himself early in his round (but late in the day Thursday) at Augusta National. JT began with three birdies on the first three holes and rode that to turning in 32. That’s four under and really good. If only he could finish! Thomas was among many pros who didn’t get a chance to officially sign his scorecard. He’s far from alone.

Adam Scott, Dylan Fritelli and Matthew Wolff were also at four under throughout just half their first round. Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson were both at three under when the horn blew at 5:30 p.m. All it means is there’s some potential for fireworks early in the day Friday. A number of afternoon players today will play their way through the gettable stretch of 13-16 Friday morning, and some of them will even begin their second round on the back nine as well. At this rate, Paul Casey will not be leading the tournament when he tees off Friday.

Bryson bounces back strong

After an adventurous start that included a double bogey on the 13th (see below) Bryson DeChambeau steadied the ship on the back half of his opening nine. Back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 got him back to even par for the day. DeChambeau’s driver was all over the place to begin his first round, but settled in as he made the turn. He birdied the two par 5s on the front nine and overpowered the 9th to finish out in 70.

“I’m fortunate enough to be two under par,” DeChambeau said later. “I was definitely risky out there today, but I’m okay with that.” For those who think that isn’t enough, think again. Tiger Woods shot 70 during his first round last year. An under-par round Thursday is plenty good.

No Spieth magic Thursday

Things looked interesting early for Jordan Spieth when he made birdie on the difficult par-4 10th. But that was as good as things were going to get for the man who plays Augusta National as well as anyone.

Spieth went long on the par-3 12th — we’ve seen him get in a lot of trouble short — to nullify his opening birdie. Unfortunately for him, he left his approach on the par-3 16th short instead. That led to a double bogey 5 as he turned in 38. Spieth was unable to rally on his second nine (the front nine), where he made just a lone birdie on the 8th.

Will he miss the cut for the first time in his career at the Masters? It’s certainly possible now. The Masters announced that only the top 50 and ties will make the weekend here this year. There is no longer a Within 10 Strokes addendum to the cut rule.

Beginning of first round suspended due to weather

The first round of the 2020 Masters didn’t last long — 25 minutes, to be exact. Opening-round tee times were supposed to begin at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday at Augusta National, but those were delayed 10 minutes due to darkness. When play began at 7:10 a.m., only a handful of players actually got holes in before play was suspended at 7:35 a.m. ET due to inclement weather.

The delay lasted three hours, and Twitter was certainly annoyed!

Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player kick off Masters with ceremonial tee shots

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player got the action started early on Thursday morning as rain fell down on the property. Follow along here for highlights and updates — not only on Big Jack and the Black Knight, but on the entire field as the 84th Masters, in November, finally gets underway.

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Here’s how Tiger Woods looked in his final Masters practice round

One question I very literally never thought I’d ask of the golf world is this: Are we paying enough attention to Tiger Woods?

How does Woods look? How does he feel? How’s he playing? I followed the practice round grouping of Woods, Fred Couples and Adam Scott on Wednesday afternoon. Here are five things I learned about Woods, Augusta National and more.

Tiger’s working hard on that high draw.

Woods isn’t close to the longest player in the field, not anymore. He wasn’t even the longest player in his group, instead somewhere between Couples and Scott. But he looks good, slightly stronger and more filled out than he did at Winged Foot, and he says he feels good, too. Last year, he hit it far enough to win this tournament. This year, if he doesn’t win again, it probably won’t be because he’s too short off the tee.

Augusta National is very soft.

Augusta’s famed Subair system was absolutely humming on Wednesday. People say a lot of things about the Subair system, things like: “They can make these fairways and greens as firm as they want, as fast as they want.” Like most things at Augusta, this is based in reality but isn’t quite true. The fairways were very soft on Wednesday, and players were landing their golf balls on these par-3s like marbles in Jello.

It’s very likely that the greens will still be soft on Thursday, especially with the promise of rain in the forecast, Subair or not. By the weekend, they may firm up. It seems silly to fully predict anything about this place, because, as Woods said, “One of the neat things about trying to figure this tournament out is Wednesday to Thursday, this golf course changes a lot based off what the committee does.”

The same may be true of the tournament’s players. Wednesday’s one thing. Thursday’s another.

Click here to read more about Tiger Woods’ Wednesday practice round.

Can Brooks Koepka contend at yet another major championship?

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2020 Masters tee times: First-round groupings for Thursday

We’ll get our first look at U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau at 7:33 a.m. ET on Thursday. He’ll start on the difficult 10th hole alongside Louis Oosthuizen and World No. 2 Jon Rahm, who made an incredible ace on the 16th hole Tuesday after skipping his ball across the pond.

Tiger Woods also has an early start for the opening round, teeing off 10 at 7:55 a.m. ET alongside reigning Open champion Shane Lowry and 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree.

Other notable groupings for the first round of the Masters include Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy (12 p.m. ET); Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Matthew Fitzpatrick (11:49 a.m. ET); Collin Morikawa, Adam Scott and Tyrrell Hatton (11:38 a.m. ET); Phil Mickelson, Abraham Ancer and Bernd Wiesberger (11:27 a.m. ET); and Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland and Ian Poulter (8:06 a.m. ET).

Click here for complete Round 1 tee times and groupings.

Masters expert picks to win

Jessica Marksbury: Bryson DeChambeau, +800. Yeah, he’s the favorite, so not a huge stretch. But I’m all-in on the BDC hype this week.

Josh Sens: Dustin Johnson, +1,200. Betting the chalk is generally a bad idea in golf, I think. Better to go with one of the longer shots on these to-win wagers. But DJ is long past due at Augusta, and he’s been playing so darned well. There’s no way he’s not in the mix down the stretch on Sunday.

Nick Piastowski: Hideki Matsuyama, +3,500. He looked REAL good last week. It’s finally his time to win a major.

Jonathan Wall: Tony Finau, +2,800. He’s going to win a major at some point in his career. You can’t convince me otherwise. This is the week the dam finally breaks.

Sean Zak: Jason Day, +5,000. We’ve seen him come plenty close. I like the juice!

Click here for more staff picks to win the Masters.

Rickie Fowler is still looking for major victory No. 1.

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Rickie Fowler: This would be the ‘hardest thing’ for average golfers playing Augusta

Not many golf fans get a chance to see Augusta National. Far fewer get a chance to play it. But that just adds to the mysteriousness and legend of the club.

Sure, you can see it on TV and probably know the key holes like the back of your hand, but what’s it like to actually play there for average golfers? We’ve previously mused what Average Joes might shoot there, but would kind of things would they most struggle with? What would be the most difficult element of the course for them to figure out?

“I think the hardest thing for a mid-handicap, average player is just more so around the greens, putting, but also facing the uneven lies,” said Rickie Fowler, who has three Masters top 10s. Fowler, who’s about to play in his 10th Masters, was speaking to GOLF.com on Monday for a Masters preview interview set up through Mercedes-Benz, a company in which Fowler is an ambassador. “You can’t really practice, or it’s hard to find the amount of slope in the fairways where you could practice what you’ll face here. Hitting balls on the range doesn’t necessarily help you at all, because you rarely face a flat lie other than your tee ball.”

Click here to read more about Fowler breaking down Augusta National for amateurs.

3 equipment storylines to watch during the 2020 Masters

The opening round of the 2020 Masters is upon us. Here’s a look at three equipment storylines we’re tracking for Round 1.

More bounce

Outside of the years where rain has soaked the course, the prudent play with the scoring clubs at Augusta has always been less bounce to account for the firm, tight turf around the greens. Reducing the bounce on a wedge makes it easier to get the leading edge underneath the ball for clean contact.

But with the tournament moving to November, players have started to pick up on changes to the grass that could require a complete 180 from the usual game plan.

“We’ve never played a Masters like this,” Woods said. “So it’s going to be very different for all of us, and some of the shots around the greens are going to be a lot more challenging than they have been in the past.

Going longer

Unless something changes between now and Thursday, Bryson DeChambeau won’t be using a 48-inch Cobra King SpeedZone driver at the Masters. To be clear: DeChambeau has never used the driver in competition, but the mere hint that he could employ it at Augusta caused his Tour colleagues to start doing their own testing to see if a longer driver had merit.

A few players have already beaten DeChambeau to the punch, including Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott. Despite his struggles in two events with a 47.5-inch driver, Mickelson still plans to stick with the longer driver and 2-wood at Augusta.

Old(ish) gear

Brooks Koepka made a driver change midway through the Houston Open. But only a handful of gearheads managed to pick up on the swap.

The four-time major winner wasn’t obligated to mention the change during his pre-tournament Masters presser but did so anyway. Koepka has never been afraid to admit when something isn’t working, which is exactly why he swapped TaylorMade’s SIM driver for an M5 that played a role in his win at the 2019 PGA Championship.

“A lot of my equipment’s a couple years ago,” Koepka said. “My driver is a model or two old. I’ve had it for two years. Wedges, hitting an older model wedge. Just stick with what I know. I’ve never tinkered with things, and stick with what you know. The beginning of the year, I was getting fitted for it and my body wasn’t right, so I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m playing well, see where it goes, numbers look good. But it’s a different game when you’re hitting on the range versus when you get out on the course and what you see.”

Click here for more on Masters equipment storylines to watch.

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