By Ann Liguori
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Notes for Thursday, April 7, 2011:
The Irish have been raving about Rory McIlroy for many years now and on Thursday afternoon during Round One of The Masters, the 21-year-old played Augusta National as if he has played it over and over again and has ‘mastered’ this course for years. This Masters is only his fourth appearance here. His best finish was a tie for 20th place in 2009. But with excellent play on the PGA Tour last year during his rookie season, winning the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship, including carding a 62 in the final round, and with strong performances in both the 2010 PGA Championships and the British Open (where he shot a 63 in the first round), finishing in third place in both Majors, this young man has delivered on all the expectations.
And for most of the day, McIllroy found himself the sole leader of Round One, shooting a 7 under 65. The way he navigated the course, under perfect conditions, also made him look like a player with twice as much wisdom and experience.
But there was drama towards the end of the day as 28-year-old Alvaro Quiros of Spain grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on 18. Quiros was playing in the last grouping of the day and carded a 7 under 65 to tie McIllroy. Quiros, with 8 birdies and 1 bogie, played the round of his career! He is no stranger to the European Tour where he has won five titles.
McIlroy birdied holes 2, 3, 4, 9, 11, 14 and 15. No bogies. And he just missed several birdie opportunities which could have added more cushion to his lead.
He said he’ll take his ‘7 under’ 65 any day even though he left some birdies out there. McIllroy also said he was very relaxed playing with Rickie Fowler and Jason Day of Australia, both of whom are around his same age and Fowler and Day are both playing in their very first Masters. When asked what the ‘young guns’ talked about, he said they talked about cars and boats, everything but golf!
McIllroy took off the last three weeks to relax and be refreshed for this first Major on the calendar. He says he feels the first week back for him is usually his best week. He spent the last few weeks in Florida to practice. Whatever he is doing, he should stick with it. The northern Irishman is hot and made the first Round of The Masters a great story.
Start pouring the Guinness. The Tourism Ireland party is held annually on the Thursday of Masters week and it could be even more festive than usual for both the Irish and the Spaniards!
YE Yang and KJ Choi are both at five under.
The top two Americans are Matt Kuchar and Ricky Barnes who both shot 4 under 68’s.
Phil Mickelson finished with a bogie on 18 that dropped him to 2 under.
And Tiger and Freddie Couples both carded 1 under 71’s.