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The Masters: Bryson DeChambeau doesn't bring Augusta National to its knees

Bryson DeChambeau reacts to his tee shot on

Bryson DeChambeau reacts to his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Masters on Thursday in Augusta, Ga. Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP/Curtis Compton

Bryson DeChambeau came in as the clear-cut Masters favorite thanks to his long-driving ability and the U.S. Open title he won in dominant fashion by six strokes in September at Winged Foot. But in the opening round of the Masters, DeChambeau dialed it back before he even teed off and then learned a couple lessons about humility and patience while salvaging a 2-under par 70 after a poor start to trail leader Paul Casey by five strokes.

Before the tournament, DeChambeau toyed with the idea of going with a 48-inch driver, 2 ½ inches longer than standard, to gain even more distance. But then, he decided against it.

"I don’t feel like I’m 100% ready with that yet," DeChambeau said. "To be honest, it’s not going to be that much of a gain this week because I am pretty much already flying bunkers out there."

That’s not all DeChambeau flew in the first round. After starting on the back nine with three pars, DeChambeau’s second shot at the par-5 13th flew the green into the azalea bushes. He was lucky to find the ball, took a drop and then flubbed the chip on his way to a double-bogey 7. To his credit, DeChambeau fought back with five birdies and only one more bogey.

"This golf course, as much as I’m going to attack it, it can bite back," DeChambeau said. "It’s still Augusta National, and it’s the Masters . . . I’m proud of the way I handled myself and finished off. Birdieing No. 8 and No. 9 was a testament to my focus level and wanting to contend here."

While DeChambeau is tied for 21st, he remains very much in the hunt on a course that invites low scoring because of the wet conditions. Playing partners Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen were curious to see how they compared to DeChambeau’s length. Oosthuizen, the shortest of the three, finished tied for fifth with a 68, while Rahm, a true bomber, was tied for 13th after a 69.

"There were a couple of them that were reality checks," Rahm said of DeChambeau’s drives. "On No. 5 I hit mine good, and he was a good 20 yards past the bunkers . . . The funny thing Louis said was [they] both hit a club that was a 7 into [the par-5] No. 15, but Louis hit a 7-wood and Bryson hit a 7-iron.

"But today proves that no matter how far you hit it, you still need to make putts. He got a 2-under-par round because he also got a lot of up-and-downs and scrambling done."

Because of a three-hour morning rain delay, the first round was not completed and will resume at 7:30 a.m. Friday. The players still on the course Thursday evening then will start second-round play about 9:35 a.m. ahead of all those who played Thursday morning and finished.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who was 3-under through nine holes, is looking forward to the opportunity to making a move in soft conditions. "You’ve got 27 holes potentially to play," Johnson said. "Hopefully, come out and get off to another good start and keep it rolling."

New York Sports