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Campbell storms into Masters lead

FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD (US unless stated):
-7 C Campbell -6 H Mahan, J Furyk -5 S Katayama (Jpn), L Mize

Tiger Woods hits out of the trees on 11th

Masters day one highlights

By Oliver Brett

Chad Campbell led the Masters after the first round yielded low scores aplenty in perfect conditions at Augusta.

Campbell, 34, surged to nine under, before two late bogeys left him with a seven-under 65, one ahead of fellow Americans Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

Tiger Woods was in decent shape five shots off the lead, and one adrift of leading Europeans Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher and Graeme McDowell.

Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia both disappointed with rounds of 73.

Accessible pin placings, sunny weather and light winds took much of the fire out of the course. And many players were eager to make the most of the situation while they could.

Campbell had a perfect start, with birdies on each of the first five holes, before he bided his time a little, playing par golf from the sixth to the 11th.

But the Texan exploded into life again with putts of between six and eight feet disappearing into the cup for birdies at 12, 13 and 14.

Through the green in two at the long 15th, a brilliant chip back set up a tap-in for the ninth birdie.

Par golf from there would have given him a 63 to match the course record established by Greg Norman in 1996 and Nick Price 10 years earlier. But the round ended poorly - an approach into the bunker at 17 brought him his first dropped shot, and he finished off with a missed short putt for par at the last.

Woods, making his first major appearance in a major since winning last year's US Open after being sidelined with knee surgery, was a slow starter.

Tiger Woods

Woods gets up close and personal with fans

But a two-putt birdie at 13 took him to one under and he followed with a 20-foot birdie putt at the next before picking up another shot at the 15th.

The 16th and 17th saw birdie chances come and go, but he went to the last just one shot away from the group tying for sixth place on four under.

However, he over-hit his approach and could not keep his third shot on the top tier of the green, so it was a closing bogey and a two-under-par 70 for the four-time Masters winner.

Harrington, hunting a third major win on the bounce, took longer than some to find his rhythm. But the traditionally awkward stretch of holes known as Amen Corner smiled on the Irishman, with birdies at 12 and 13.

A bogey six on the long 15th - a hole which has got the better of him several times in the past - was a blow Harrington could have done without.

But he saved a good par at the short 16th after going way too long, birdied the 440-yard 17th with a brilliant putt from the fringe and almost made another from 15 feet on the last.

"The golf course is set up for good scoring," said Harrington. "I was disappointed with 14, 15, 16 where there were opportunities, but this round keeps me in the tournament. I'm happy."

Trevor Immelman

Highlights - Immelman chips in on the 14th

Fisher, the 28-year-old from Berkshire making his Masters debut, was one of the early starters. He was a shot clear of the pack when walking off the 16th green with a birdie following a confidently-struck downhill putt.

An approach hit into a greenside bunker and an ill-directed tee shot cost him strokes at each of the last two holes, however, to knock the gloss off his round.

Fisher said: "If you can walk off Augusta National disappointed with a 69 you were doing something right. You dream of playing in the Masters and I've been dreaming of it for a very long time.

"Just to get an invitation and feel you belong is a great achievement. Being my first Masters, obviously I'm going to cherish every moment, but I feel like I have a chance of winning. I'm here to do my best and do my damnedest to win."

606: DEBATE
Wayne Fountain

Furyk, the 2003 US Open champion, had twice finished fourth at Augusta. He again showed a liking for the course and was nicely placed at two under when finding four birdies in a row from the 14th.

"I was just kind of plugging away, but those four holes were exciting and I had a lot of fun." he said. "I'm pleased with the start but I need to build on it."

Mahan had an interesting round that saw him advance to five under after 10, only to drop two shots at the 11th.

But far from knocking the wind out of his sails, that reverse fired up the 26-year-old Californian and he found four consecutive birdies - the last a downhill right-to-left putt at 16 - to shoot back up the leaderboard.

Like many before him, he found the 18th a tough prospect and after hitting his approach long and left, he could only find the fringe with his third shot, so a bogey was the inevitable result.

I played terrible - Mickelson

Mickelson, expected to mount a big challenge this week, was unable to produce the golf his fans were hoping for.

"I played terrible - there's no way to sugar-coat it," he said in an honest appraisal of his round.

"The pins were accessible, but I put the ball into terrible spots off the tee and never had the chance to take advantage."

Tim Clark, runner-up in 2006 and leader after two rounds the following year, was tied for sixth place at four under as he aims to become the first person to take the Masters title after winning the par-three tournament.

"It's an extremely demanding tournament, but I know what it takes to win it and I certainly come here with that mind," said the South African.

Clark's countryman Trevor Immelman had three straight birdies on the back nine on his way to a one-under-par 71, a solid enough start for the defending champion.



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see also
Masters photos
09 Apr 09 |  Golf
Augusta tee-off times
07 Apr 09 |  Golf


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