The Masters: Rahm wins by four strokes ahead of Koepka, Mickelson

By Sports Desk April 09, 2023

Jon Rahm capitalised on a miserable Sunday for Brooks Koepka to race clear and win the Masters by four strokes with a score of 12 under.

Rahm, 28, had a disappointing finish to his third round early on Sunday morning, with a pair of bogeys in the last six holes meaning he would start his final trip around Augusta National Golf Course at nine under, two off the lead.

But Koepka would make two early bogeys, and Rahm tied things up with birdies on the third and eighth holes.

Rahm and Koepka both bogeyed the ninth, but while Koepka continued to head in the wrong direction, Rahm got back on track and opened up a four-stroke buffer with back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th, and he closed the show with par on 18.

Koepka ended up finishing at eight under in a tie for second, where he was surprisingly joined by Phil Mickelson after an historic round from the 52-year-old.

Mickelson shot a seven-under 65 in his last round – including five birdies from his final seven holes – to reach eight under for the tournament.

In doing so, Mickelson set the record for the lowest round in Masters history by a player aged 50 or older, finishing his day as the leader in the clubhouse.

He needed an epic collapse from Rahm to make things interesting down the stretch – who at the time only led by two strokes – but it never arrived.

Sunday's other top performance came from Jordan Spieth, putting together a round 66 – with nine birdies and three bogeys – to shoot up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth at seven under.

He was joined by fellow former Masters champion Patrick Reed as well as Russell Henley, with Viktor Hovland and Cameron Young one further back tied for seventh at six under.

Sahith Theegala produced a Tiger Woods-esque chip-in birdie on the 16th hole to claim outright ninth place at five under, with major champions Matt Fitzpatrick, Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa being joined by world number seven Xander Schauffele in a tie for 10th at four under.

Shot of the day

It was impossible to watch Theegala's chip-in run down the 16th green without remembering Woods' famous birdie in his 2005 victory, putting it in the perfect spot to replicate the historic moment.

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    Rory McIlroy had mixed emotions after carding a one-under-par 71 on a windswept opening day of the 88th Masters.

    McIlroy, carded four birdies and three bogeys in his lowest opening round since 2018, but ended the day five shots behind playing partner Scottie Scheffler and six adrift of clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau.

    “It’s satisfying in one sense because it’s a decent start compared to the way I’ve played here recently, but I felt like it could have been two or three better,” McIlroy, who is making his 10th attempt to win a green jacket and complete the career grand slam, said.

    “I think after the slow start making a few birdies around the turn was good. A little wasteful coming in. I had a good chance for birdie on 15 in the middle of the fairway and didn’t take that.

    “Missed a shortish one on 16 and then the bogey on 17. But overall still not a bad score, and obviously a lot of golf left to play.

    “I’m definitely not out of the tournament and not chasing anything tomorrow. I’m playing with Scottie so can keep an eye on what he’s doing and I’m looking forward to getting back out there.

    “If you look at Scottie compared to the rest of the field, the amount of bogey-free rounds he shoots is phenomenal, and that’s the secret to winning major championships.

    “I made three bogeys today, which is fine out there in these conditions, but just need to tidy it up a little bit to try to keep up with him.”

  • Masters day one: Tiger Woods faces daunting 23 holes on Friday Masters day one: Tiger Woods faces daunting 23 holes on Friday

    Tiger Woods faced the prospect of completing 23 holes in one day as he looked to keep his hopes of a record-equalling sixth Masters title alive on Friday.

    Woods was among the 27 players who were unable to finish their first rounds on Thursday at Augusta National after bad weather meant the start of play had been delayed by two and a half hours.

    The 15-time major winner managed to complete 13 holes in one under par to lie six shots off the pace set by former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, with pre-tournament favourite Scottie Scheffler just a shot behind following a flawless 66.

    Scheffler came into the week with form figures of 1-1-2 and the biggest obstacle to a third win in four starts would appear to be his wife Meredith going into labour with their first child.

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

    “As far as her going into labour, I wouldn’t say I’m very concerned. We haven’t seen any of the early signs. But pregnancy is weird. It can happen at any time.

    “Yeah, [we have] open lines of communication and she can get a hold of me if she needs to. I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

    Shot of the day

    Scottie Scheffler holed out from a bunker on the 12th for his third birdie in a flawless 66.

    Statistic of the day

    Top statistician Justin Ray highlights the tough task facing anyone carding one under par or worse in round one.

    Quote of the day

    “It feels like I’ve just gone 12 rounds against Mike Tyson” – Former champion Sergio Garcia after battling the windy conditions to shoot 72.

    Hardest hole

    With three players yet to complete the hole, the 11th was narrowly ranked the hardest hole ahead of the 18th, with six birdies, 32 bogeys and three double bogeys giving a scoring average of 4.372.

    Easiest hole

    The par-five eighth played downwind and yielded three eagles, 50 birdies and just three bogeys for a scoring average of 4.404.

    Tee times

    The first round will resume at 0750 local time (1250BST), with the second round getting under way at 0800.

    Weather forecast

    Slightly cooler and less humid conditions return Friday with mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 70s. It will continue to be windy out of the west at 15-20mph, with gusts up to 30mph throughout the day. After a cool start on Saturday morning, temperatures will rebound nicely this weekend with highs in the upper 70s Saturday and low to mid 80s on Sunday with plentiful sunshine.

  • Bryson DeChambeau sets testing target with opening 65 at Augusta Bryson DeChambeau sets testing target with opening 65 at Augusta

    Bryson DeChambeau beat his personal par by two shots as a relentless Scottie Scheffler made an ominous start to his bid for a second Masters title.

    Almost three and a half years after claiming that Augusta National was a “par 67 for me” due to his prodigious hitting, DeChambeau carded a seven-under-par 65 on a windswept opening day which followed a lengthy weather delay.

    But that was only good enough for a one-shot lead over Scheffler, the world number one and 2022 champion posting a bogey-free 66 that left playing partner Rory McIlroy trailing in his wake.

    McIlroy, who is making his 10th attempt to win the Masters and complete a career grand slam, made four birdies and three bogeys in his 71, while defending champion Jon Rahm bogeyed the last two holes in a 73.

    Former champion Danny Willett posted a superb 68 in his first event since undergoing shoulder surgery in September, the 36-year-old only deciding on Sunday that he was ready to compete in the year’s first major.

    DeChambeau birdied his first three holes and bounced back from his only dropped shot of the day on the ninth with a back nine of 31, which included birdies on the 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

    The 30-year-old’s par-67 comment came two months after he won the 2020 US Open, but left him open to ridicule after he could only manage a best score of 69 and finished 18 shots behind winner Dustin Johnson, now a fellow LIV Golf player.

    “Regarding the 67 comment, you know, You mess up, I’m not a perfect person,” DeChambeau admitted. “Everyone messes up.

    “You learn from your mistakes and that was definitely one.”

    Asked if his comment actually had merit given his round today, DeChambeau was not about to take the bait.

    “You’re trying to pigeonhole me into saying that again, aren’t you?” he said with a smile. I’m not going to comment on that.

    “Sure, if you want to line the math up that way, that is a perspective you can take. It was a perspective I had, and it cost me a lot of slack, I guess you could say. It definitely hurt some things.

    “But look, I’ll say this again. I shot 65 today, and that was one of the best rounds of golf I’ve played in a long time. There’s three more days to go, and I’m not losing sight of that fact.”

    McIlroy will be pleased there are 54 holes remaining after battling to remain in red figures over the closing stretch, the four-time major winner having earlier been the subject of a mixture of criticism and encouragement from Jack Nicklaus.

    Nicklaus said he believes McIlroy will win the Masters at some stage to complete the career grand slam, but also offered his opinion on why the Northern Irishman had failed to win a major since the 2014 US PGA.

    “I only have one criticism of Rory,” Nicklaus told Golf Channel. “You have to concentrate 100 per cent of the time.

    “For some reason, Rory always has a little bit of a lapse somewhere around the tournament. He’ll find a double bogey or triple bogey that sneaks in there.

    “I don’t know how he does it or why he does it, but it happens. And I wish that wouldn’t happen.”

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