Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy and Puyallup’s Ryan Moore did a lot of two things Thursday to open the 79th Masters Tournament in the same marquee grouping.
And lots of waiting.
Mickelson opened with a 2-under-par 70, McIlroy fought back for a 71 and Moore had a 74 at Augusta National Golf Club.
It was Moore’s second-highest opening round score, behind the 77 he shot last year before eventually missing the cut for the first time in seven Masters appearances.
The Cascade Christian graduate even recognized that nobody in the group really could grab any momentum and run with it.
“I was hoping for something all day,” Moore said.
“I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t hit the ball close enough, and if I did hit it reasonably close, I didn’t make (the putt). It was just one of those days.”
The front nine had its share of lowlights — and one huge highlight in Mickelson’s eagle at the eight hole. He hit a 3-wood approach that stopped three feet from the hole.
One hole that has become a real thorn in Moore’s side is the fourth hole — the 240-yard par 3.
He’s had his third-highest score collectively on that hole for his career (8-over).
The tee shot has been pushed back so far, Moore is now regularly hitting a 5-wood into that green. He did Thursday, and it landed in the lip of the front bunker, leading the second of back-to-back bogeys.
“I am not long enough to be able to hit an iron into there,” Moore said.
Mickelson and McIlroy both made bogey at the sixth hole, also a par 3, failing to get up and down from around the green. Mickelson and Moore took bogeys at the seventh hole as well.
But Mickelson roared back with the eagle at No. 8 to make the turn in 2-under.
“That was a bonus shot. I was trying to get it somewhere on the back of the (eighth) green to make birdie,” Mickelson said. “If I continue to hit the ball like this, I’ll have a number of opportunities. But eventually you have to get hot on the greens.”
Then the pace of play slowed dramatically on the back nine hole. That nine-hole stretch took nearly three hours to complete.
McIlroy, the reigning British Open and PGA Championship winner, fell to 1-over after a bogey at the 11th hole. But he two-putted from 40 feet for birdie at No. 13, and he got up and down from the right-side gallery area at No. 15 for a final birdie.
“It could have been a round,” McIlroy said, “that got away from me.”
Moore’s two-putt birdie from 40 feet at the 15th hole got him back to 1-over. But two holes later, facing a sidewinding chip from the back of the green, it curled past the hole and to the front apron, leading to a final bogey.
His greenside bunker shot at the finishing hole grazed the left lip, leaving him with a par for a 74, sitting tied for 54th.
This same group tees off 10:48 a.m. PST Friday for the second round.
“It’s not a terrible round. I did not shoot 4- or 5-over to make myself have to shoot 5-under tomorrow,” Moore said. “I feel like if I go shoot 3- or 4-under tomorrow, I will be in good position.”