Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau share first round lead at US Masters
THREE-times major winner Brooks Koepka and his fellow American Bryson DeChambeau surged through the field late in the day to share the first round lead at the US Masters.
Koepka, winner of the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and the US PGA Championship in 2018, was bogey-free in his 66, with five of his six birdies coming on the back nine, while DeChambeau's finish to his 66 was even more explosive, with six birdies and a bogey in his last seven holes.
Three-times Masters champion Phil Mickleson is one shot off the lead in third place after a 67, while world number two Dustin Johnson and England's Ian Poulter are joint fourth on four-under and five players share sixth place on three-under.
A frustrated Rory McIlroy left himself facing an uphill struggle to complete the career grand slam following an opening 73, marred by bogeys at each of the final two holes
McIlroy was two-over par for the day after bogeys on the 10th and 11th but rallied superbly to birdie the 13th, 15th and 16th, only to drop shots on the last two holes.
The last 13 Masters champions were all inside the top 10 after the opening round and McIlroy found himself outside the top 40 at the time of signing his card.
"I felt the course was there," McIlroy said. "It's soft. There's not much wind. I made five birdies, that wasn't the problem. I just made too many mistakes. And I'm making mistakes from pretty simple positions, just off the side of the green, 17 and 18 being prime examples of that.
"I'm going to go to the putting green right now and try to figure this out, just sort of reads more than anything else. I over-read a few early on, and then I started to under-read them coming in.
"I think just whenever the greens are a little slower, they don't break as much. The greens are maybe two or three feet slower than they usually are, just because it's been so soft and the rain. They will get faster as the week goes on, so it's just a matter of adjusting."
McIlroy's 73 was his worst opening round since a 74 in 2010 and the Holywood man added: "You know you're going to have chances. There's birdie opportunities.
"I can accept mistakes if I'm trying and it's not a mental error, but six bogeys out there is a little too many and I'm just going to need to tidy that up over the next few days."