AUGUSTA, Ga. — Smylie Kaufman’s first round at the Masters tournament was a windblown ordeal.
The former LSU golfer shot a 1-over par 73 in his debut at Augusta National Golf Club, his first full season on the PGA Tour. He earned his invitation thanks to his first career victory in October in Las Vegas.
“It played hard,” Kaufman said. “There’s no way to sugar coat it. There’s trouble at every corner.”
Kaufman birdied the par-5 second hole but made the turn at 1-over after back-to-back bogeys at seven and eight. He dropped another stroke on the 11th but birdied the par-3 12th at the heart of Amen Corner and the par-5 13th after punching out of the trees and making a 12-footer for his 4.
A three-putt bogey dropped him to 1 over, good for a tie for 34th place.
“I battled well,” he said. “I just had four or five things I don’t normally do happen in the round: a three-putt, a couple of bogeys with wedges, bogeyed a par-5. If I clean that up, I’m playing well.”
The most encouraging part of Kaufman’s round was his driving. He was credited with hitting 11 of 14 fairways but was really only in trouble on 13.
“Other than that I drove it well,” he said.
Former University High golfer Patrick Reed is still searching for his first sub-70 round in the Masters, as he began his third appearance with a 4-over 76 that left him in a tie for 59th.
Reed hit only eight fairways on the day and nine greens, making his only birdie on 13 when he pitched on and sank a 14-footer.
Reed, the world’s No. 10-ranked player, declined interviews after the round.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, with caddie Ted Scott of Lafayette on his bag, vaulted into contention on the front nine as he got to 3-under through eight holes.
But Watson played the last 10 holes in 6-over to come home with a 75 that included a second shot in the water on the par-5 15th and a tee shot in the water on the par-3 16th that led to a double.
“Today wasn’t my day,” Watson said. “But around this golf course with the wind the way it’s supposed to be the next couple of days, I can still get back in this.”
Reed in featured group
Reed’s threesome with Louis Oosthuizen and former PGA and Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion Jason Dufner will be highlighted on the Featured Groups channel Friday on Masters.com.
Reed’s group tees off at 11:44 a.m. CDT.
Els has meltdown on No. 1
Four-time major champion Ernie Els saw his Masters basically end just after it started in shocking fashion.
Els made a quintuple bogey 9 on the par-4 first hole, taking six putts to get in the hole.
What’s worse, all of Els’ putts came from three feet or less.
What’s worse than that was Els’ description of what went wrong.
“I can’t explain it,” he said. “I couldn’t get the putter back. I was standing there, I’ve got a 3-footer, I’ve made thousands of 3-footers, and I just couldn’t take it back.
“I tried to fight. I’m hitting the ball half decent and I can’t make it from two feet.”
Els went on to shoot an 8-over 80, tied for 81st in a field of 89 golfers.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.