Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond made a dream start to his debut in The Masters on Thursday after shooting a three-under-par 69 at August National Golf Club.
The reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion was one over after bogeys on 11 and 12 but stormed home making four birdies on his final six holes – including one on the famous par-four 18th, where he hit his second to 10 feet.
The 24-year-old is four shots behind England’s Paul Casey – who holds the clubhouse lead with a 65, on a weather-hit opening day.
“It’s very good, it’s my first round out here at Augusta. I just tried to get it all in. A little bit of a rain delay at the start. It’s still a really good round at Augusta,” said Jazz, who claimed four titles on the Asian Tour last year.
“They said the golf course plays a little different than April. Maybe it’s lucky for us first timers that we can be kind of eased into Augusta. It’s very fortunate for us. My birdie on 18 was pretty nice to cap it off.”
He had played the front nine in one under with a birdie on the second and magnificently handled the treacherous greens not making any three putts. He hit 12 of the 18 greens in regulation and 10 out of 14 fairways.
He added: “I think the golf course will play a bit different because it rained today, and I think the weather is going to turn out for us on the weekend, so we’ll see how much it changed. I’m looking forward to it.”
Two-time Asian Tour winner Justin Harding from South Africa was two-over for his round after 13 holes when played ended for the day.
Casey’s bogey-free round featured five birdies and an eagle.
He recorded his best major finish earlier this year when he tied for second at the US PGA Championship in August and enjoyed a stunning start at Augusta.
The 43-year-old birdied his opening hole, the par-four 10th, and was four under after seven and then took the lead with an eagle at the par-five second.
He hit a stunning approach to four feet and holed the putt to move to six under par, before adding another birdie at the par-three sixth.
“I know this golf course better than most, my first Masters was 2004. It’s a golf course I love to play,” said Casey.
“What I desperately want is people pouring through the gates to watch myself and others play golf, but until that happens I’ll make the most of it.”
Defending champion Tiger Woods from the United States started strongly with a 68, while his countryman and pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau battled back after early struggles to shoot 70.
“It was so different, not only the sight but the energy – there are no roars. But we are able to compete for a Green Jacket this week which earlier this year seemed improbable,” said the 44-year-old.
“I understand how to play this golf course. It’s a course that allows for experience.”
An electrical storm saw play suspended for three hours, so 45 of the 92 players did not complete their rounds.
American world number three Justin Thomas was five under after 10 holes, while world number one Dustin Johnson from the United States was three under after nine.