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Last Updated:  Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Friday's Augusta diary
BBC Sport's Iain Carter
Iain Carter
BBC golf correspondent at Augusta

Darren Clarke takes a break from the action
Clarke takes a breather during a long, hard day
The soggy conditions have made Augusta more reminiscent of Glastonbury rather than the Masters.

But now we have some golf and the undoubted highlight of the first day was the demeanour, and performance of Darren Clarke.

He cut a very relaxed figure thoughout the entire 28 holes he played, on what will have been one of the most physically and mentally demanding golfing days he has experienced due to the exacting nature of the Augusta course.

Even after his first round 66, when obviously he would have been in a very good mood, he still found time to talk to reporters when he had just half an hour to prepare for his second round.

He's relaxed, and, although he dropped shots towards the end of the day, he was still smoking his cigar on the tee, laughing and smiling.

Clarke's striking the ball well and reaping the benefits of his more patient outlook.

Although that hasn't been rewarded with results so far this season that may be about to change.


At the other end of the spectrum is Colin Montgomerie who's having an utter nightmare.

He was clearly ill at ease in the very cold conditions in the morning, but even when the weather warmed up in the afternoon his golf didn't.

Monty's heading for home early yet again after another missed cut.

He has a lot to think about on that homeward journey as during nine weeks in America he made only one cut, a dreadful return for a player of his class.


Padraig Harrington watches another putt slide by the hole
Harrington watches another putt slide by the hole
Another European who will be very, very disappointed with his return will be Padraig Harrington.

Having tied fifth last year he would have fancied his chances, particularly having finished second in the Player's Championship, but nothing got going for him.


Justin Rose was steady on his debut and is clearly revelling being here.

He played like a little boy at Christmas, wide-eyed at almost every turn just happy to take in the atmosphere.


Someone else who can be content with a tidy first day is Paul Lawrie, one of the most under-rated players in Britain.

People say his Open win at Carnoustie was flukey, but the bottom line is he won it even if Jean van der Velde threw away his opportunity.

Lawrie's consistent on the European tour and the early signs suggest he has transfered that form across the Atlantic to Augusta.


All the talk before the action was of Ernie Els and Tiger Woods.

Els struggling came as a huge surprise and it will now take a lot for him to get his hands on a Green Jacket this year.

He showed a champion's quality to come through, as did Woods.

You can never write Tiger off, although that is what some of us were wanting to do after his first round, his worst return from 18 holes at Augusta.

He recorded a first birdie after 22 holes, and, like the proverbial London bus, another one came along straight afterwards.


Phil Mickelson follows the flight of his ball
Mickelson keeps his eye on the ball - keep an eye on him
As I said, you can never write Tiger off, but if you want to put your money somewhere, an established American to keep an eye on is Phil Mickelson.

This maybe the time for him to come through and I wouldn't mind a little wager on him.

But as the old saying goes, the Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday, so there's plenty more golf to be played yet - and thankfully, no more rain.





Links to more Masters 2003 stories


 

SEE ALSO
Wednesday's Augusta diary
09 Apr 03  |  Masters 2003
Tuesday's Augusta diary
09 Apr 03  |  Masters 2003

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