Brandt Snedeker and Lee Westwood overcame double-bogeys Thursday to shoot 70 in the first round at Augusta National.
It was Westwood’s wild ride on the first hole. He drove into the left trees, then punched out to 50 yards short of the green. That third shot found a slope and rolled off the green. His chip shot ran 15 feet by and he missed the bogey putt. Snedeker made his double on No. 5 after snap-hooking his drive into uncharted territory.
Snedeker and Westwood were on the short list of expected contenders at this year’s Masters, as was Justin Rose, who also opened with 70. The world’s No. 3 player was a little less erratic Thursday, making four birdies and two bogeys. This was Rose’s eighth consecutive round of par or better at Augusta National.
After birdies at Nos. 2 and 3, Snedeker snap-hooked his tee shot at the par-4 fifth into water left of the fairway.
“Didn’t even know there was the hazard over there,” he said. “Proceeded to make a double bogey, which is probably the best I could have hoped for after a tee shot like that.”
He also found water with his second shot to the par-4 11th, but got up-and-down for bogey. He almost found the water again after pushing his second shot to the par-5 13th. The grass surrounding the creek was thicker than most years, Snedeker said, allowing the ball to stay out of the hazard. He chipped to 10 feet and made the birdie putt.
“Played very scrappy,” said Snedeker, who finished third at the 2008 Masters. “I didn’t drive it the way I needed to drive it to contend around here, but made a lot of key putts today. I kind of held on and got a good round under my belt, which is nice.”
Snedeker was arguably the game’s hottest player before having to sit out earlier this year with a strained rib muscle. Snedeker had finished 2nd-2nd-1st in three starts before the injury. He missed the cut in his two starts before the Masters, though.
Westwood followed his opening-hole struggles with birdies at Nos. 2, 9, 10, 13 and 15 before making bogey at No. 17. He’s finished no worse than 11th in his last three Masters, including a runner-up in 2010 and a third-place finish last year.
“I did manage a double bogey before in the U.S. Open last year, that sprang to mind, and I fought my way back to have a chance,” Westwood said. “So there was no panic, really.”