Masters 2018: The five most intriguing stats from Thursday's first round at Augusta
Defending champion Sergio Garcia’s 13 on No. 15—courtesy of hitting five balls into the water—was just one of the key stats from Thursday at the Masters. In addition to the Spaniard setting the record for high score on the 15th hole and tying the record for highest score on any hole (joining Tom Weiskopf’s 13 on No. 12 and Tommy Nakajima’s 13 on the par-5 13th), there were several other numbers of note during round one. Here are five more numbers nuggets to chew on.
• By snaring the 18-hole lead, Jordan Spieth has now held or shared the Masters lead in nine out of his last 15 rounds at Augusta National. That puts Spieth tied for third place all time for the most number of rounds holding or sharing the top spot after 18, 36 or 54 holes. Ahead of Spieth are Arnold Palmer (14 times) and Jack Nicklaus (13 times), while Spieth joins Gary Player and Raymond Floyd.
• Spieth’s 66 puts his Masters scoring average for 17 rounds at 70.11. Coming into this year’s Masters the lowest scoring average for any player with 25 or more rounds was Jason Day, at 71.56. In other words, Spieth is on pace to break that mark by a full stroke if he continues his strong play over his next eight rounds at Augusta National.
• Getting off to a fast start is not essential to winning the Masters, however being in reasonable position after the first round is near essential. In 19 of the last 21 Masters the eventual winner was within five shots of the lead after the first 18. If form holds that means anyone who shot worse than one-under 71 is unlikely to win, a group that includes Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Adam Scott.
• Until Spieth’s late run it appeared Tony Finau would join a list of first-year players who held or shared the Masters lead for at least one of the rounds. That would have put Finau in some pretty heady company. Among those who held the lead at some point during their inaugural Masters were Ralph Guldahl (1937); Greg Norman (1981) and Jordan Spieth in 2014. Overall 23 first-year players have done so with the most recent prior to him being Thomas Pieters last year.
• The third-shortest hole on the course gave up the fewest birdies Thursday. The downhill, 180-yard par-3 sixth allowed just two birdies, thanks to a fiendish back-left hole location that had many players coming up short on their tee shots to leave an uphill putt. Those long and right had trouble keeping the ball on the green (2016 champion Danny Willett putted off the back of the green) and some used wedge from the putting surface, including Francesco Molinari, who got down in two by doing so. The two birdies were carded by Ryan Moore and Chez Reavie. Overall the sixth hole played to a stroke average of 3.23, making it the seventh-most difficult hole on the course Thursday.