Charley Hoffman leads by four
McIlroy level par, Spieth +3
Dustin Johnson pulls out with back injury
He surged into a commanding lead and appeared to be playing a different course to the rest, but while world No. 1 Dustin Johnson was nursing a back injury that forced him to pull out it was Charley Hoffman who took the Masters by storm on day one.
Five years ago at Augusta he said he wasn’t “good enough” to win a major, now Sergio Garcia shares the halfway lead with Charley Hoffman, Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler at the Masters.
The 32-year-old underwent intensive rehab overnight and took to the Augusta practice range Thursday to test his back before pulling out minutes before his 2.03 pm ET starting time.
“Obviously, I want to play more than anything but I just can’t swing the club,” Johnson told reporters at Augusta.
“I just don’t feel like there’s any chance of me even competing. It hurts. I was doing everything I could to try to play. I was up pretty much all night trying to get it ready for today.”
Instead, it was the 40-year-old Hoffman who made light of the breezy, befuddling conditions to fire a seven-under 65, including four straight birdies on the back nine.
The Las Vegas resident, playing in his fourth Masters, held a four-shot lead over countryman and debutant William McGirt the only other player to break 70.
Hoffman’s is the biggest first-round lead at Augusta since Jack Burke’s four-shot advantage in 1955.
“The putts started going in the hole - as simple as that sounds,” said the world No. 52, who was ninth at the Masters in 2015.
Hoffman’s round was all the more remarkable given only 11 players broke par, but the rest of the field will be hoping it was an anomaly – in the last 11 Masters the winner has been inside the top 10 and within four shots of the lead after round one.
The 37-year-old McGirt, who has missed the cut in three of the four previous majors he has played, said: “It was pretty darn special. Any time to break 70 is awesome.
“I’m lucky enough to know a few members here and I’ve spoken to a few caddies and they’ve been happy to share their knowledge with me.”
England’s two-time runner-up Lee Westwood, 43, finished a stroke further back in third on two under after a run of five consecutive birdies from the 13th.