Westwood sets early pace
Englishman one ahead after first-round 67 at Augusta
Last Updated: April 6, 2012 1:20am
Lee Westwood equalled his best score at Augusta National to claim a one-shot lead after the first round of the Masters.
The Englishman, who is seeking to break his major duck at the 56th attempt, carded a five-under-par 67, one better than South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and Peter Hanson of Sweden.
Westwood, runner-up to Phil Mickelson two years ago, had four successive birdies from the fifth to turn in 32.
First round leaderboard
(US unless stated)
-5 L Westwood (Eng)
-4 P Hanson (Swe)
-4 L Oosthuizen (SA)
-3 B Crane
-3 J Dufner
-3 MA Jimenez (Spn)
-3 P Lawrie (Sco)
-3 F Molinari (Ita)
-3 B Watson
Click here for collated scores
The world No.3 bogeyed the 10th after missing the green but added further birdies on the 13th and 17th.
Westwood also benefited from the late collapse of Swede Henrik Stenson, whose quadruple-bogey eight at the 18th saw him tumble from five under to one under.
"This is my 13th time here," said Westwood, who found 16 out of the 18 greens in regulation.
"I've learnt the course and feel comfortable on it. That eradicates a lot of the tension.
"My ball-striking was very good - it has been all year. Majors are my primary focus and this was a long time coming around after the USPGA."
Rory McIlroy, who blew the tournament with a closing 80 last year, recovered from an opening double bogey to hand in a 71, finishing with back-to-back birdies.
"The finish was huge. I didn't feel I had my best out there and to be under par I'm very pleased," said McIlroy.
In contrast a wayward Tiger Woods bogeyed the last two for a 72, while an even wilder Mickelson and world number one Luke Donald could do no better than 74 and 75 respectively.
Woods had to take penalty drops in the trees at the second and 18th and reckoned that off the tee he had "hit some of the worst shots I've ever hit". He was hastily off to the range afterwards.
Scot Paul Lawrie, playing the event for the first time since 2004, eagled the 13th and 15th for a three under 69 that had set the early clubhouse target.
"I've learnt the course and feel comfortable on it. That eradicates a lot of the tension. My ball-striking was very good - it has been all year."
Lee Westwood Quotes of the week
The 1999 Open champion, now 43, had never broken 70 in 14 previous rounds - and had not managed an eagle either in 264 previous holes at the venue for the season's first major.
For his two eagles Lawrie first of all hit a rescue club to three feet on the 13th and then he chipped in from 45 feet at the 15th.
He refused to let a closing bogey spoil his mood - especially as he was not even certain to be playing after going down with bronchitis three weeks ago and, of course, it was three better than Stenson managed on the hole.
Stenson was not the only one to hit trouble - three-time champion Phil Mickelson had a triple bogey seven on the 10th on the way to an opening two-over 74.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington - winner of the curtain-raising par-three competition for a record third time and therefore trying to break a hoodoo once again as nobody has gone on from that to Masters glory - England's Ross Fisher, Stenson and McIlroy are joint 14th.
Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are only one further back and tied for 29th with Woods.
Open champion Darren Clarke, bothered by a groin strain before the start, had a 73, Graeme McDowell 75, Martin Laird, Simon Dyson and Paul Casey 76, Ian Woosnam, 77 and 1988 winner Sandy Lyle, Britain's first champion, a worst-of-the-day 86 - 46 of them by the turn.