Bryson DeChambeau charges early, Scottie Scheffler charges late to open Masters

Scottie Scheffler hits on 18th hole at the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Scottie Scheffler hits on 18th hole at the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, Thursday, April 11, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. Jason Getz /

AUGUSTA -- Like a spurned suitor seeking another chance, Bryson DeChambeau did all he could to make up with Augusta National Thursday afternoon. The Masters, in turn, blushed.

Taking advantage of calmer conditions earlier in the day, DeChambeau ripped off a career-low 65 in the first round, providing him a one-shot lead while assuaging a rocky relationship with a course he not so long ago boasted he should dominate and had been punished for saying it ever since.

With 30 players still on the course when play was suspended due to darkness at 7:51 p.m. due to a rain-delayed start, DeChambeau held a one-shot edge over tournament-favorite Scottie Scheffler, who endured wind-whipped late-afternoon conditions to score a 6-under 66. It was Scheffler’s career-low Masters total, better than any round in 2022, when he recorded his three-shot victory here.

Standing three shots back was another former champion, Britisher Danny Willett, whose surprise 68 repudiated his missing the cut five times since his 2016 title. New Zealander Ryan Fox was four shots back at 69, tied with Australian Cameron Davis.

Play resumes at 7:50 a.m. Friday with 10 groups still to complete their rounds. Among those still on the course were Danish Masters rookie Nicolai Hojgaard (5-under after 15), Max Homa (4-under after 13) and Britisher Tyrell Hatton (3-under after 14). Tiger Woods was 1-under with five holes to play.

The field, which will begin the second round at 8 a.m. expects to be wind-blasted again, with gusts forecasted at 35 mph, before conditions calm for the last two rounds.

DeChambeau, who went off with the day’s fifth group, was able to complete his round at 4:20 p.m. with the majority of the field exposed to 20-mph winds that grew more gusty as the late afternoon went on.

It was the Masters that helped send DeChambeau’s career in motion. After finishing as low amateur here in 2016, he turned pro the very next week. A opening-round 66 in 2019 was good enough for an early lead and emboldened him to infamously remark the next spring, “I’m looking at (Augusta National) as a par-67 for me.”

The course has punished him ever since. In his next 16 Masters rounds, he played to 23-over par, culminating in missed cuts the past two years. Gallaries remained impressed. The comeuppance was brutal.

“You know, I messed up,” he said afterwards. “I’m not a perfect person. Everybody messes up. You learn from your mistakes and that was definitely one.”


After a rapid-fire birdie-birdie-birdie start, DeChambeau battled par most of the afternoon until the par-5 No. 15, when luck interceded. Driving to the pine grove on the right side, he determined to go for the green in two through a small window of pine boughs.

“I clipped the tree,” he said. “I hit four pine needles rather than five and it worked out perfectly. But it was a scary shot. I probably shouldn’t have done it but I took a risk.”

The ball carried the pond, settled 40 feet from the pin, from where he scored a two-putt birdie and started him off on another birdie-birdie-birdie binge for a lead that held up.

Starting two hours behind DeChambeau, Scheffler had to chase him down through increasing evening wind conditions. His solution? Don’t think about wind conditions.

“I wasn’t really trying to think too much about my score out there,” he said. “I mean, it’s the first day of the tournament. I was just trying to hit good shots and stay patient out there. You cannot force yourself into making birdies around this golf course. It just doesn’t lend itself to that, especially with the high winds.

“And so, I saw that he shot 7-under and I thought to myself, wow, that’s a really good round of golf, and I put my head down and focused on what I was doing.”

Scheffler’s round featured birdies on three of the course’s four par-3s. But he needed a break on the par-5 13th, when he mis-hit his 212-yard approach shot that teetered on the far edge of the creek. Finding his ball had stayed dry, he got up-and-down for birdie, one of four he carded between Nos. 12 and 16. A fifth birdie try on No. 17 died at the cup.


Before anyone could pull a club from his bag, the tournament celebrated one of its new traditions: the weather delay. The storm system that ripped through the state overnight left Augusta National soggy and lingering drizzle forced tee times back 2-1/2 hours to a 10:30 a.m. start.

Since 2019, every Masters has experienced some weather-related pause; last year’s championship stopped play in both the second and third rounds. While not unusual -- 49 of the 88 Masters have experienced some rainfall -- the 21st century has been particularly well-watered. Thursday marked the 15th year it has rained on the Masters in the 2000s.

No more rain is forecast for the weekend but there is one game-within-the game ongoing with Scheffler. His wife Meredith is due with the couple’s first child this month and while she has shown no signs of early labor, the lines of communication to his Dallas home are open and he will leave Augusta on a moment’s notice.

“I feel like, well, we are a little underprepared,” he said. “The nursery is not quite ready and we’ve had some issues at our house the last few weeks. I think that’s the exciting part. I think we are definitely underprepared to be parents.”