I’ll return later with a full column on the first day of the Masters, posted on MyAJC.com. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on Thursday’s round.
UPDATE: Here’s a link full column on Tiger Woods’ first day at the Masters.
1. Jordan Spieth: The future (and present): He’s not just the best young golfer on the tour, he has proven to one of the best in the world at the age of 21. Spieth nearly became the youngest Masters champion in history last year (finishing second to Bubba Watson) after leading on Sunday by two strokes. Everything about his opening round Thursday suggested this could be his year. He fired a 8-under 64, giving him a three-shot lead. He had nine birdies, including a stretch of six out in seven holes (Nos. 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14). Welcome to the future.
2. Only at the Masters: As Ben Crenshaw says goodbye to the Masters, and vice-versa, a scene that played out Thursday could have only happened at Augusta National. As Crenshaw walked up to the 18th green, the scoreboard behind him had a green 16 next to his name. But the 63-year-old was given a standing ovation. Imagine what the reaction if Crenshaw had been anywhere close to par. Instead, he went on to make a triple-bogey 7 on the 18th to finish his next to last Masters round at 19-over 91, the single worst round of his entire professional career (he had shot 87 twice). As Crenshaw said this week when asked about playing in his final Masters, “I probably should’ve done it a few years ago.
3. Old Guy Watch (or Crenshaw, Part II): Part of the charm of the Masters (sometimes) is that winning the tournament gives one a free pass for the rest of his career. So it can be interesting to see how the 55-plus crowd performed. The first-round oldtimers champion was the oldest: Tom Watson, 65, fired a 1-under 71, his first sub-par round at Augusta since 2010, when he made the cut. He’s the oldest player to break par in Masters history and was the only member of the 55-plus club to put up a red number. The other oldies, ranked by age: Crenshaw (63), 19-over 91; Mark O’Meara (58) 1-over 73; Bernhard Langer (57) 1-over 73; Sandy Lyle (57) 2-over 74; Ian Woosnam (57) 3-over 75; Larry Mize (56), 6-over 78; Fred Couples (55), 7-over 79.
•Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox — AJC: It’s Masters morning and old guys have laready withdrawn — MyAJC: On eve of final Masters, Ben Crenshaw embracing every moment — MyAJC: Woods loose, confident, but is he really ready for Masters — MyAJC: Braves stop the noise with opening victory — AJC: Short takes: Small ball, Teheran, bullpen and a Braves’ win — AJC: LIVE: Braves (or what’s left of them) open series vs. Marlins — AJC: Braves’ deal saves budget (Upton) but drives nail in season (Kimbrel) — MyAJC: Trade reaffirms Braves’ decision to go backward before forward — MyAJC: With expectations low, at least Braves won’t underachieve — AJC: Hawks’ biggest nightmare: Millsap suffers shoulder injury — MyAJC: Hawks’ turnaround started with trade of Joe Johnson — and he knows it — AJC: (Updated) Hank Haney was right — Tiger Woods to play in Masters — AJC: Braves’ deal for Trevor Cahill illustrates concerns about rotation — MyAJC: Real news would be Tiger Woods making shots — AJC: Tiger Woods’ plane in Augusta but status for Masters still uncertain — AJC: Are Braves really second-worst team in majors (thank you, Philly)? — AJC: Falcons will pay appropriate penalties for dumb decision — MyAJC: Paul Millsap: The 6-8 kid who couldn’t dunk now leading Hawks — AJC: Hawks clinch East, act like it’s no big deal (which is probably good) — MyAJC: NBA needs to curtail resting of players — AJC: Will Falcons, others avoid losing draft picks this year? — MyAJC: Basketball is where Georgia State’s focus should be — AJC: New reality at Georgia State: What Ron Hunter wants, he gets — MyAJC: Hawks get drilled, and concerns may be growing — MyAJC: Georgia better but still not where it needs to be — AJC: Mark Fox returns subtle fire at Brian Gregory before tournament — MyAJC: Gregory knows he needs to make most of his extended lifeline — AJC: Gregory says he gave Izzo ‘everything’ he has on Georgia — AJC: Timing is everything, as Tech keeps Gregory — AJC: Tech expected to keep Gregory, but former coach (Hewitt) fired again