WRAP: Spieth surges to Masters lead

Dean Simpson
April 7, 2018

Spieth's showing was reminiscent of the stunning opening 18 holes he played three years ago where a 64 contributed to his wire-to-wire victory that matched the record low score for victory.

One of the two players behind two shots behind Spieth is Tony Finau, making his Masters debut.

"This tournament often feels like there's six rounds with how the weekend grind is", Spieth said.

Tiger Woods gave galleries at Augusta National something to cheer for on Thursday in his first round at the Masters in three years.

That record may not amount to anything less than the 31% chance implied by Spieth's outright odds of [3.2], but it is of course still early days and there is no shortage of quality alternatives on this leaderboard. 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy, who is a Green Jacket away from the career grand slam, are both within three shots.

So where does this leave the betting?

McIlroy came out breathing fire and birdied the first hole for the first time in 35 rounds at Augusta.

Notables include early leader Marc Leishman, Rickie Fowler, and former champions Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson in the group tied for 11th at -2.

The trends are similarly clear about those likely to contend at any stage. He followed it up with two more birdies overshadowed by four bogeys to finish the day 1-under and tied for 16th. He actually popped it back into place. "There's no way I would've thought I'd be in this position".

The four par-5s are there to be taken advantage of by the big hitters.

"For some reason, I don't have any pain". First and foremost, it just isn't my style of betting.

Regrets, Tiger Woods had a few on Thursday. I'm extremely encouraged by an opening 69 which could easily have been 72. I don't know, it's just one of those things. Kuchar has finished top-eight in four of the last six Masters and is poised to contend once again. In his first round at the Masters, he walked with a barely noticeable limp, seemed to cut off his follow-through to keep his left foot flat and finished two shots behind Spieth, tied for second with Kuchar. At odds of [18.5], we should get a decent run.

In one sense, he was happy to be playing. In this case, though, I'm delighted to back Smith at [2.32] compared to yesterday's [2.5], considering the Aussie won by five strokes.

This amateur could be an interesting outsider of three. 5 and 7 brought him back to level par.

A birdie at No. 13 commenced an insatiable run. Behind Spieth at 4-under is Tony Finau, who's participating in his first-ever Masters. A bad shot is really penalized on 16. He had 17 putts through nine holes, not the start he was looking for at a course he knows that putting is at premium. The same logic applies here - opposing the awful value Tiger Woods - but I'm switching to Fleetwood today.

All of his family was on hand to celebrate what should have been a momentous achievement, the culmination of so many years of hard work and sacrifice. I probably couldn't have gotten it closer with a bucket of balls.

He is the last player to win the Masters after shooting over par in the first round after shooting 2-over 74 before going on to win his fourth green jacket in 2005.

But on No. 15 Thursday, in a Masters that could be defined by the crowded and charismatic leaderboards it produces, Garcia and Augusta National engaged in one of their old tussles, the kind - prior to past year - that the course always won by knockout.

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