AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on the first round of the Masters on Thursday (all times local):
The 82nd Masters has begun.
Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player officially got the tournament started Thursday morning with the ceremonial tee shot.
Player, 82, took the first swing followed by the 78-year-old Nicklaus under a clear, sunny sky with the temperature in the 40s. It is expected to be in the high 60s by the afternoon.
Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told the crowd crammed around the first tee how privileged they were to have the duo with nine green jackets to start the tournament.
Wesley Bryan, Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr. were the first group to tee off when play began.
No matter where Ian Poulter turns, there’s someone with an outstretched hand and congratulatory words.
Certainly, no one took a more harrowing path to the Masters.
The 42-year-old Englishman was the last player to qualify for the first major of the year, winning last weekend’s Houston Open in a playoff after sinking a 20-foot birdie on the 72nd hole .
“Nice putt,” someone said as Poulter lingered under the mammoth oak tree in front of the clubhouse at Augusta National.
He responded with a sly wink and a smile that signaled more relief than joy.
“To do it the way I did it, after all the disappointments, all the highs and lows, it’s really nice,” Poulter said on the eve of the Masters.
When the tournament begins Thursday, there will be no shortage of compelling storylines.
Tiger Woods is playing for the first time since 2015, healthy again and looking very much ready to contend for a fifth green jacket. Phil Mickelson is coming off a World Golf Championship victory and trying to become the oldest Masters champion at age 47. Rory McIlroy is looking to complete the career Grand Slam. Sergio Garcia is the defending champion. Dustin Johnson is the world’s top-ranked player. Justin Thomas has seven wins since the beginning of 2017. Jordan Spieth already has three major titles, including the 2015 Masters.
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