Defending Masters champion Patrick Reed pauses to sign an autograph for a young fan during the Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Augusta. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Masters notes: Pumped up Reed too long on No. 1 - again

How pumped up was Patrick Reed to start the defense of his Masters title?

He hit his 3-wood so long off the first tee that he found the bunker.

Last year in winning the tournament, Reed finally heeded the advice of his wife and hit the 3-wood to avoid the bunker on the right side of the fairway that was a magnet for his driver.

“I was more nervous than expected, coming back and defending it,” Reed said of his title defense after opening with a 1-over par 73. “Obviously the adrenaline was going, because normally I hit 3‑wood on the first to take the bunker out of play. So for one hopping into the bunker, obviously the adrenaline was going.”

Reed saved par on the opening hole but had bogeys at Nos. 4, 7, 11, 14 and 18. He birdied Nos. 10 and 15 and eagled No. 13.

Tough finish for Howell III

There was no storybook finish for Charles Howell III on Thursday when the Augusta native played his first round at the Masters since 2012. Howell was 2-under after making a birdie at the 13th to climb onto the leaderboard. But Howell bogeyed three of the final four holes to finish at 1-over 73.

Howell qualified by winning the RSM Classic at Sea Island, his third career victory and first since 2007. He downplayed the notion that nerves played a part of his poor finish.

“It’s a difficult golf course,” Howell said. “Every hole is on that fine line. If you’re off just a little bit, it’s hard to make par.”

Tales from Gary Player

After starting the 2019 Masters with ceremonial tee shots, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus conducted their annual press conference, an hour-long, wide-ranging and entertaining interview.

Player can speak on nearly any subject. Here are a few of his gems from Thursday.

*On the Augusta National Women’s Amateur tournament that concluded Saturday: “But to see the change they made, and Winston Churchill, my all‑time hero, said, ‘Change is the price of survival.’ And to see that they have now followed suit and to have this great junior tournament here and now these ladies playing here; a few guys would turn in their grave because a lot of them stood up in front of these guys and said, ‘I will never allow a woman to be a member.’ So they will be watching that, from wherever they are.”

*On current conditions of courses: “I remember people getting in bunkers, and they couldn't get out at Lytham & St Annes. I couldn't get out, put it in the bunker there. And I went to Brigadier Brickman, and I made the biggest error. I said, ‘Man, I have an appointment.’ He said, ‘Yes.’ So I went in, and I said, ‘You know, just being in America, and I love The Open, in America they have got rakes all over at every hole, I love The Open; may I buy 18 rakes for this tournament?’ He says, ‘You little insolent bastard, get out of my office.’”

*On current players using books to read greens: “To read the green, you’ve got to look at a book. If you can’t read a green, you should be selling beans. It’s part of the game. Where are we going? Everything is so artificial.”

Weather update

The first round of the Masters featured partly cloudy skies a comfortable temperatures in the low 80s. The final round on Sunday remains under threat of thunderstorms.

The forecast for the rest of the week at Augusta National calls for:

Friday: AM thunderstorms, 85/68 degrees, 40 percent chance of precipitation

Saturday: AM thunderstorms, 87/67, 40 percent

Sunday: Thunderstorms, 83/56, 100 percent

- Stan Awtrey contributed to this report.

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