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81st Masters: What they’re saying

Highlights of what the competitors in the 81st Masters said after Thursday’s first round at Augusta National Golf Club:

  • Six-time Masters champ Jack Nicklaus (on the Arnie’s Army badges handed out Thursday on the grounds): “He would have dropped over if he had seen one on Gary (Player) and me. It was very nice.”
  • Golf Channel analyst Colin Montgomerie on the withdrawal of World No. 1 Dustin Johnson: “Great shame. Great shame for the whole tournament, for ourselves and for all the viewers. On the back of three wins and by far the best player in the world, and now we hear the very sad news. All we can do is wish him well and a speedy recovery and get back to the next major, the U.S. Open. His character and his attitude will stand him in good stead here. He is disappointed – we are all disappointed – but for the sake of Dustin Johnson’s career, he has done the right thing.”
  • U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad after a round of 74, asked if this day or the first time he played Augusta National was the best day of his life: “The best day of my life was still was probably still when I won the Mid. This is a good start. I’m not treating it just because it’s the Masters, I’m not treating it any differently. … Look, it’s a special piece of property. This is a very special case, and special membership. And it’s an honor and a privilege just to be in the field and have the opportunity to compete.”
  • 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize (Georgia Tech) on the weather conditions during his 74 and how Thursday was like days past at Augusta National: “I remember it might have been the year I was defending in ‘88 we had the really tough first round I think I shot 79 and it was real blustery and everything. But this is when this place plays really hard, when you get the conditions like this. The wind swirls, club selection is tough, and you want to be accurate with your irons into these greens and it’s hard to be with these conditions. And then putting. With the wind, the speed of these greens, the wind will definitely affect it. So it’s tough conditions out there and it’s just getting worse as the day goes on, so I’m happy I’m done.”
  • Kevin Kisner (University of Georgia) on his toughest shot of the day: “Every one I stood over. I thought the back nine played incredibly hard. That wedge shot on 15, who knows what’s going to happen. I think that’s probably one of the hardest ones.”
  • Rickie Fowler, arguably the best player yet to win a major after a round of 1-over 73: “I could have accepted five (bogey) at the last, but a little ticked off about making six (double bogey). Other than that, it’s a decent day. … I love playing in the wind, this golf course is fun to play, you got to hit shots and quality golf shots especially in the wind, so the tournament’s far from over.”
  • Champions Tour star and 1992 Masters champ Fred Couples on his 1-over 73: “I don’t want it to be like this for four days, if I’m here four days. But it was good to have it really blowing hard for me, because I felt like I’m not hitting it great. And if it was calm and nice, a 73 or (74) would be not a very good score. I don’t feel I’m capable of shooting … I’m now learning, this is a long, hard course for me.”

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick after he took a double-bogey 6 on No. 18 to fall to 1-under and out of a share of the lead: ” Just didn’t really feel comfortable over the tee shot (on No. 18). My low one’s lower than everyone else’s, so I can actually kill someone at head high, so I didn’t feel comfortable with people sort of poking their head round. Should have backed off it and got everyone to move. So I’ll do that the rest of the week.”

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