Closing Time

Final thoughts from a terrific first day at Augusta:

*Ian Poulter may have cost himself a jacket with his incredibly poor play into the clubhouse on Thursday.  Poulter gave himself plenty of birdie chances on the second nine, but couldn’t hit a putt. Mix in a bogey on 16 and a double at the last and he’s thrown away his shot at contenting this week. Yeah, he has 54 holes to play, but Poulter has to leap over a host of great names to get there. No chance.

*Same goes for the number one ranked golfer in the world. Martin Kaymer threw in a 78 in the first round. He likely won’t stick around for the weekend and absolutely won’t remain in the number one spot on Monday morning. Don’t let one poor round at Augusta dismiss the reigning PGA Champion. Kaymer’s an outstanding golfer who will contend (and possibly win) another major later this year.

*OK, more positive from this point in. Rory McIlroy played well enough to shoot a 62 today. The Northern Irishman flirted with, and missed, three consecutive birdies coming in. He still shot a 65 and co-leads. McIlroy has been erratic in the past in this situation and it will be very interesting to see if the youngster with such incredible promise reacts to his prime position. He’s the oldest youngest 21-year-old you will ever see on a golf course. It won’t be a choke job if he loses.

*Luke Donald was flat-out dead on day one on the 13th green. The par-3 winner made par on a birdie hole and walked off with a score of +3. Donald then carded birdie-eagle-birdie to check into red numbers. At some point the par-3 winner has to win the actual golf tournament. Right? He’s in at even, seven off McIlroy’s lead.

*Alvaro Quiros made me stay longer than I wanted to at work. It’s OK, I forgive him. The incredible closing golf by Quiros (birdie-birdie finish) gave him a co-lead with young Rory. Watch out for Alvaro’s smile. It could light up a golf course.

*Names to keep an eye on Friday: Trevor Immelman, Alvaro Quiros, K.J. Choi, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose. Almost one-third of the field will tee off on Friday under par. We’ll do this blog this again all day tomorrow. Thanks for following along on Thursday. I’ll look for all of you to click on me tomorrow. We tee off around 11.

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