Millennium Post

Leishman and Garcia take control

Australia’s Marc Leishman and Sergio Garcia of Spain shared the lead at the 77th Masters on Thursday after both shot six-under 66s in the first round at Augusta National.

Leishman had set the early pace, sparked by four birdies in a row from the 13th, but Garcia matched him late in the day with a bogey-free round that matched his best ever at the Masters, where he debuted in 1999.

Dustin Johnson of the United States was a stroke further back at 67 with six players -- Rickie Fowler, Fred Couples and Matt Kuchar of the United States, David Lynn of England, 2008 champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain -- grouped together on 68.

Tournament favorite Tiger Woods was tucked in with a batch of players on two-under 70 while world number two Rory McIlroy shot level par and three-time winner Phil Mickelson had a 71.

China’s 14-year-old prodigy Guan Tianlang, who became the youngest player ever in Masters history, came in with a 73 to preserve his chances of playing at the weekend. Reigning champion Bubba Watson struggled to a three-over 75 By the end of a day of intense action, 45 players in the 93-strong field were at or under par and within six shots of the lead.

Garcia, the former boy wonder of world golf, disparaged Augusta National last year after a poor final round and doubted his own chances of ever winning a major. He was four under by the turn and showing off some of the superb shot-making, his trademark.
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