Rahm, Brooks, Vik, and Tiger on wild opening day at Masters

Brooks Koepka, 2023 Masters,(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Brooks Koepka, 2023 Masters,(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

It was mostly a day of surprises at the Masters. Tiger Woods looked tired. He said his pain was constant. But that was only because he was asked.

“I didn’t have very good speed early. I had two three-putts, and consequently I’m a couple over par. I didn’t hit my irons close enough today,” Woods said to media after he finished his round. He added that he didn’t give himself good chances to score.

“This is going to be an interesting finish to the tournament with the weather coming in. If I can just kind of hang in there, maybe kind of inch my way back, hopefully it will be positive towards the end,” he added.

When the first round of the Masters was completed, Woods was in 54th place at 2-over par, nine back of the leaders, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Viktor Hovland, who were tied at 7-under par.

"“It’s full focus on this and trying to walk out of here with a green jacket.” – Brooks Koepka"

Brooks Koepka’s physical condition has improved. He is able to bend down and squat to read putts. And he is not in the same kind of pain that he was in a year or so ago. Also, he’s paying extra attention to his game this week because it’s a major.

“There’s only really a couple things I care about, is going to work out and going to play golf, and that’s it when we’re here, and nothing else really matters,” Koepka said to reporters about his attitude this week. “It’s full focus on this and trying to walk out of here with a green jacket.”

Masters, Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland
Brooks Koepka, 2023 Masters, (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images) /

Jon Rahm was 7-under after making a double on the first hole. He four-putted the first green.

“It not like I had the right line and the right read and made a poor stroke. All of them felt good,” he said to media about the four strokes.

"“Then I remembered Seve’s quote, I think it was here at the Masters, right, when he 4-putted. I just kept thinking to myself, ‘Well, I miss, I miss, I miss, I make.’”"

While embarrassing, he recovered and was 9-under the rest of the round. He hit every fairway.

“If you’re going to make a double or four-putt or anything, it might as well be the first hole.  Seventy-one holes to make it up,” he added philosophically.

Masters, Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland
Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, 2023 Masters, (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Viktor Hovland said somehow he was 6-under through 11.

Viktor Hovland got off to a fast start at the Masters on Thursday.

Perhaps a throwback to his British Open performance last summer? He ended at 7-under due to an eagle at the second hole and five birdies through the rest of the round.

Maybe the real reason he played well was that he was grouped with Tiger Woods. When he found out, his heart rate went up.

"“I just thought, wow, this is going to be exciting,” he said. “You’ve just got to embrace it. You can’t be scared or anything like that. If you want to win this tournament, you can’t be scared about playing with Tiger.”"

He didn’t have trouble sleeping. He just looked forward to the chance to play with one of the best ever.

“So, you’ve just got to overcome things like that,” he added.

What he won’t have to overcome is any kind of bad weather. That’s because he’s been at home most of the last two months.

“It’s been really cold, and I’ve played with three, four layers in 30-degree weather and blowing 30,” he said.

“I’ve definitely had enough practice in those types of conditions. But I haven’t played Augusta National in that type of weather, so that will be interesting to see how that goes.”

His azalea design shirt became a hit on social media, but he said he just wears what the company sends him.

Masters, Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland
Viktor Hovland, 2023 Masters, Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Network /

“It’s definitely a little bit out there, but I think I’d rather take these than the pink pants I had last year. So, we’re making progress,” he joked.

As far as how this week compares to the British Open on Sunday of last year when he had a chance to win, he believes his game has improved since then.

“I feel like my skill set is a lot better right now, and I think I would have wanted to play that Sunday again, this week, for example,” he added.

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The Masters tee times have been moved up to start at 7:30 AM on Friday to get in as much golf as possible before anticipated bad weather arrives.