116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The first day of the 86th Masters Tournament at Augusta National is in the books, with Zach Johnson of Cedar Rapids opening with an early-morning 2-over-par 74 in cool and misty conditions early Thursday.
“I’d give it about a C. C-plus maybe,” Johnson said of his round. “Actually, I putted well on the back. I chipped it well on the back. I made some nice saves. I had some opportunities I probably let go. I also put myself in some precarious spots and managed to escape.”
One such spot was behind the back of the treacherous par-4 fifth green.
That’s a spot he knows not to go, but his mental coach Morris Pickens said that all things considered, making a 10-foot bogey helped keep the momentum going, especially so early on in the day.
And the wind was heavy and fierce on that front nine for Johnson. He missed the ninth green to the right and short by a good 20 yards.
“It was very difficult to pick a club in the wind,” Johnson said. “I had one situation where it was like, ‘OK, I think this is kind of a no-brainer’, and that was on 17. Very difficult to pull the right club. I mean, commitment was everything. With a gust like this, solid shots can still end up in very difficult conditions.”
Johnson made the turn at 1-over 37, then came in with another 1-over 37 after bogeying 18 to finish. Johnson’s mindset was just to get home safely.
“I was on the 18th tee at 1-over, and then I hit a terrible tee shot,” Johnson said. “If I could have made a good tee shot there, it would have made that hole a whole lot easier. I would have taken 1-over considering some of the spots I was in.”
But he’s going to have to settle for 2-over par. Now Johnson will head out for round 2 and see if he can make up some ground Friday at 11:24 p.m. Johnson and the rest of the field will have to combat some serious winds (17 to 20 mph) during the early and mid-afternoon. After going through tough pockets of wind Thursday, Johnson aims to be more prepared Friday.