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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Zach Johnson shot a 5-over par 77 in the opening round at the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National and he trails leader Justin Rose by 12.
The 2007 champ struggled like most of the rest of the field on a much firmer and faster course than what they faced in November’s Masters.
The Drake grad’s troubles Thursday stemmed mostly from an inaccurate driver off the tee as he shot a 3-over 39 on the front nine and finished with a 2-over 38 on the back. When you’re out of position at Augusta National, especially with firm conditions like Thursday, it becomes hard for anyone to score. Rory McIlroy, one of the pre-tournament favorites, also was hit and miss off the tee and only hit nine of 14 greens Thursday, struggling to a 4-over 76. He even accidentally hit his dad Gerry with an errant second shot on the seventh hole.
What are the odds, right?
Johnson hit seven of 14 fairways and six of those misses were well to the left, either in the rough, the Georgia pine trees or in a fairway bunker like he found on 18.
Johnson, who also had a long day on the greens — as he took 30 putts — actually drained his birdie putt on the final hole from about 30 feet away. He let his putter fall on his shoulder as he dropped a wry smile and tipped his hat to the patrons.
Johnson currently stands in a tie for 72nd out of a field of 88 and he has not missed the cut at the Masters since 2017. He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him Friday. Thunderstorms are expected in Augusta around 2 p.m. (local) and so Johnson and his 9:47 a.m. group may just get in before the weather gets bad.
Garrett Johnston has covered 30 major championships and hosts the Beyond the Clubhouse podcast. Follow on Twitter: @JohnstonGarrett