Kanaya wows early at Augusta; Hovland leads am contingent
The Masters leaderboard (Augusta National image)
The Masters leaderboard (Augusta National image)

There were plenty of heroics in the opening round of the Masters (hello, Bryson DeChambeau with four closing birdies), but none to speak of came from the six amateurs in the field. It’s possible Takumi Kanaya created the most excitement among the amateur contingent by opening with back-to-back birdies.

Still, Kanaya finished the day with a 1-over 73.

Here are some thoughts from each player’s Augusta National debut:

Viktor Hovland, U.S. Amateur champion
Score: 72 (T-29)
Highlights: Three crucial birdies on the back – at Nos. 13, 15 and 16 – pushed him to a back-nine 35
He said: “I played three PGA Tour tournaments. I hadn't done all that great in them. But I felt that really helped me to kind of prepare for this event. Obviously you're used to watching them on TV all the time. And Patrick has won here last year and Webb is an awesome player. And, yeah, it is a little strange, because I'm used to playing with the guys on the team and amateur golfers I know really well. But, it feels really cool.”

Takumi Kanaya, Asia-Pacific Amateur champion
Score: 73 (T-44)
Highlights: Opening birdie came off a putt of 24 feet.
He said: “It was like a dream come true to start birdie, birdie and see your name on the board. It was pretty neat.”

Alvaro Ortiz, Latin America Amateur champion
Score: 73 (T-44)
Highlights: His two birdies of the day came at Nos. 8 and 17, and there were no big numbers on his card
He said: “Just to have the chance to come out here and compete against the best and being toe‑by‑toe by the names like Tiger Woods or Bernhard Langer, I played with him, and it's just special to me and to my family and I was just so honored that I had the opportunity to do it.”

Jovan Rebula, British Amateur champion
Score: 73 (T-44)
Highlights: Made two birdies at Amen Corner, on Nos. 12 and 13
He said: “I feel like my game was very solid today, much more solid than I thought it was going to be. I hit a lot of good shots out there today, which I executed well, the way we planned it. So I had a good game plan and we stuck to it today and it was pretty good and very fun.”

Devin Bling, U.S. Amateur Runner-up
Score: 74 (T-58)
Highlights: Birdied No. 9, after sticking a 9-iron to 4 feet, to make the turn at even par. Would have finished even but for a double-bogey at No. 18
He said: “I fought hard all day. I hit it well. My speed on the greens wasn't great. But I hit a lot of good putts, just not used to four footers breaking a cup and a half. Not much I could do, but I fought hard all day.”

Kevin O’Connell, U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
Score: 77 (T-77)
Highlights: After a double bogey at No. 11, O’Connell birdied Nos. 13, 15 and 16 off of putts that were all inside 15 feet.
He said: “A lot of the guys that I've played some practice rounds with told me that you'll feel like you have the course kind of figured out in terms of the conditions and the pace and everything. And then you show up on Thursday and it will be a lot faster and a little firmer than you thought it might be. And they were right. The greens, especially on the second nine, as we got later in the day, got a lot faster. But in terms of the playing in front of all the patrons and everything, after the first tee shot, that was really the only time you're really thinking about it to be honest.”

Results: The Masters
T32NorwayViktor HovlandNorway70072-71-71-71=285
T36MexicoAlvaro OrtizMexico70073-71-73-69=286
55CADevon BlingRidgecrest, CA50074-73-71-73=291
T58JapanTakumi KanayaJapan50073-74-68-78=293
MCFLKevin O'ConnellJacksonville, FL077-71=148

View full results for The Masters

ABOUT THE The Masters

One of Golf's four professional majors traditionally invites amateurs who have reached the finals of the US Amateur, or won the British Amateur or the US Mid Amateur. Also included are the winners of the relatively new Asia Pacific Amateur and Latin American Amateur.

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