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  Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
DiMarco masters Augusta opening
Phil Mickelson
Mickelson made up substantial ground on the back nine
Chris DiMarco stole Tiger Woods' thunder on the first day of the US Masters to finish one shot ahead of the field at Augusta.

The American finished his seven-under-par round of 65 at the same time as Woods opened his Augusta account with a bogey at the first.

It was the start of a frustrating afternoon for Woods, who finished five shots off the pace with a two-under-par 70 for a share of 15th.

Instead it was DiMarco, playing in his first Masters, who set the course alight.

The New Yorker fired eight birdies as he finished one shot ahead of Steve Stricker and Argentina's Angel Cabrera.

Two-time US Open champion Lee Janzen, Phil Mickelson and John Huston were a further stroke back.

  Augusta leaderboard
Seven under
Chris DiMarco
Six under
Steve Stricker & Angel Cabrera
Five under
Phil Mickelson, John Huston & Lee Janzen
Four under
James Driscoll, Kirk Triplett, Miguel Angel Jimenez & Chris Perry

Many of the "name players" and pre-tournament favourites had a quiet opening day in Georgia.

But Mickelson, the world number two, finally found his touch at Augusta as he reeled off a succession of birdies for his 67.

And Fiji's Vijay Singh steadily crept up the leaderboard to three-under.

His birdie at the last, which cancelled out a bogey at the 17th, left him well in contention to repeat his triumph of 2000.

Early day charge

But it was DiMarco who stole the plaudits.

Chris DiMarco
DiMarco ended one shot outside a record rookie opening round score

"I don't think the spotlight's on me because nobody expects me to win but me," said DiMarco, invited to Augusta National bu virtue of his 19th place finish on last year's USPGA Tour money list.

For much of the day the American amateur champion James Driscoll led the chasing pack on a leaderboard peppered by American names.

But it was more recognised names on the professional tour who finally began to chip away at DiMarco's imposing lead.

Mickelson battled his way into contention on the back nine and in the process stated his intentions for the tournament.

The left-hander hit four successive birdies as he built a platform from which he will be looking to win his first Major.


With the likes of Tiger around and the way Mickelson's been playing, I feel like you can never rest
Steve Stricker
"I think that this is by far the best opportunity for me to win a Major," he said after concluding his round.

"I waited till I felt good with my swing before I attacked the hole.

"It was a good day to score low but I'm sure it's going to get progressively more difficult as the week goes on," he added.

The 30-year-old is tied in fourth with Huston and Janzen who both finished strongly coming home in 33 and 32 respectively.

Driscoll finished a further shot back with Kirk Triplett, Chris Perry and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

European challenge

Miguel Angel Jimenez lines up a putt
At four-under Jimenez was the top European
For much of the day the Spanish triumvirate of Jimenez, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia battled valiantly against an American monopoly at the top of the leaderboard.

But as the more celebrated pair fell by the wayside, Olazabal ended with a bogey to join Garcia on two-under, Jimenez carded his best round at Augusta finishing three shots off the lead.

Garcia and Olazabal are among a host of names, along with Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, five shots off the lead.

However it is the name of Woods at two-under-par that everyone at Augusta, from DiMarco down, will be watching with interest on day two.

Woods in turn will be looking to throw off the frustration and torpor of his opening day.

Tiger Woods watches as a putt goes agonisingly wide
Woods endured some frustrating moments
From his opening shot which arrowed off the fairway, to the final green when a birdie putt drifted wide, Woods never looked at home with his game.

"I liked my iron shots but I didn't putt as well as I can do," Woods reflected.

"Overall I am very pleased with the way I played and you can't be unhappy when you shoot a red number," he added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC golf correspondent Tony Adamson
rounds up the first round action
World number one Tiger Woods
"I was nervous"
First round leader Chris DiMarco
"Everybody always said Augusta would be a good course for me"
Ian Woosnam
"I'm disappointed, the course was set-up for a good score today"
Sergio Garcia
"The greens aren't as fast as they usually are"
Jose Maria Olazabal
"I think I played better than I scored"
Darren Clarke
"I was about a foot short of pace all day"

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