The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 10, 2014

Haas grabs Masters lead with 68, Scott in the mix

(Continued)

As an added bonus, if Scott finishes no worse than a tie for third place, he will take over the No. 1 spot in the world rankings for the first time in his career.

What he really wants is another green jacket.

Playing in their first Masters, Jimmy Walker and Kevin Stadler of the U.S. and Sweden's Jonas Blixt were among those shooting 70, making their way around the course just fine despite some unfamiliarity with the historic layout.

They are among a record two dozen Augusta rookies in the field, which doesn't include four-time winner Woods, out of the game until summer as he recovers from back surgery.

"I kept it in play and hit a bunch of greens and kept away from the three-putts, so it was a good thing," Stadler said.

Gary Woodland and Brandt Snedeker of the U.S. also opened at 70, as did K.J. Choi of South Korea. Fifty-four-year-old Fred Couples opened with a 71.

Stadler is part of the first father-son duo to play the Masters together. His dad, Craig, was the 1982 champion, while Kevin earned a spot in the field with his first PGA Tour victory at Phoenix.

The elder Stadler didn't fare nearly as well as his son. Craig opened with an 82 in what he has said will likely be his farewell as a Masters competitor.

"I played like a moron," Craig Stadler said.

The 35-year-old Walker is having a breakout year on the PGA Tour, picking up the first three victories of his career. He kept up his strong play at Augusta, where ripped off a run of four straight birdies starting at the 14th.

Among those with afternoon tee times: Phil Mickelson, attempting to join Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth green jacket. But that bid got off to a rocky start when Lefty shot a triple-bogey 7 at the seventh, his worst score ever at the hole nicknamed "Pampas."

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