The Masters is well underway in Augusta, and there are several unfamiliar faces atop the leaderboard. Allow me to introduce you to…
Jonas Blixt: -2, tied for 5th
He’s a world number 56, and is competing in his 3rd major and 1st Masters. At one point today, this 29-year old was in the lead by a couple strokes. It’s beginning to look like he may be falling back to earth after bogeying two holes late in the day, but still, what an effort. This came on a day when many of golf’s top dogs have stumbled. The Swede played his college ball at Florida State. Time to channel his inner Seminole.
Kevin Stadler: -2, tied for 5th
This is a touching story. I recently wrote an article about my close connection with my father when it comes to watching baseball. Kevin and his dad are the first ever father and son to be competing in the same Masters (Craig Stadler, the father, won in 1982). Definitely a sweet tale, but even sweeter is the fact that Kevin is 2 under par going into Friday. Surely he’s playing this tournament with a full heart and all the adrenaline in the world.
Gary Woodland: -2, tied for 5th
Another guy taking up the 5th spot after day one, Woodland is a 29 year old whom after a brilliant college career at Kansas, is hungry for a big win on tour. He’s come close in several smaller PGA events, losing in playoffs on a few occasions. What’s remarkable is this man’s improvement from 2009-2011. In a two year span he jumped over 900 ranking spots into the top 50. This Masters may not be his big moment, but after Thursday he’s on the right track.
Bill Haas: -4, leader
Bill Haas is a familiar name because he comes from a long lineage of golf champs, but his results haven’t been excellent in majors. His best result at Augusta was placing 20th last year, but after day one this man leads Adam Scott for 1st on the leaderboard. Let’s see if he can take after his great uncle, Bill Goalby (’68 champ), and win the title this year in Augusta.
The Tiger Woods era was predictable in that, well, he would always win the Masters. But nowadays there is so much parity in golf. It makes it more exciting in a lot of ways. Hell, I wasn’t a fan until a year ago. Parity is why I watch. I like the fact that an Angel Cabrera can rally and make it to a playoff, completely out of nowhere (2013 Masters). Or a Victor Dubuisson can hit consecutive amazing shots in Accenture Match Play to nearly win. Bottom line here, it’s going to be a thrilling weekend at the 2014 Masters, and it’s only just beginning.