Masters Notebook: Good scores, colorful shirts
By Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia played just one group apart Thursday and were only one shot apart on the leaderboard at the Masters.
That wasn't terribly confusing, though their shirts were.
Viewers around the country had to be doing double takes as the cameras switched between the two players as they battled for the lead in the late afternoon on the back nine. That's because both were wearing the same garish shirt, color and all.
"Well, we are not wearing the same outfit because we want to," Johnson said. "This is Adidas; they script our clothing this week. We are wearing the same outfit because they told us to."
The shirts were partly striped and an acid shade of green. From a distance, it was hard to tell which player was which.
Whatever they looked like, the shirts seemed to work. Garcia shot a 66 to tie for the lead, while Johnson was a shot back at 67.
Johnson was asked if he would like to wear something on Sunday that moderator Tom Nelson -- an Augusta member -- was wearing in the interview room. That, too, comes in green and is put over the shoulders of the Masters champion.
"I would love to," Johnson said, laughing.
MICKELSON MOMENT: There's a reason fans love Phil Mickelson. He usually goes the extra step to please them.
Mickelson was at it again Thursday after finishing his opening round of 71. After signing his scorecard in the clubhouse he came out to see about 30 fans lined up in a roped off area hoping to get autographs from Lefty.
Mickelson asked if anyone had a marker pen, then had caddie Jim Mackay fetch it from a woman in the crowd. He then took out a used glove and signed it for a little boy who was waiting with his father.
"You can't sign outside the clubhouse but for him I'll make an exception," Mickelson said.
Those waiting applauded the move, then someone yelled out that Mickelson should sign for the woman, too, for giving him the Sharpie.
He didn't, and said it should serve as a lesson.
"Sometimes you can do something nice without anything in return," Mickelson told them.
WEATHER ALERT: Spring means unpredictable weather in Georgia, and the forecast for Thursday was ominous with late afternoon thunderstorms expected.
It held off, though, until just after the final groups were done and players had signed their scorecards. Rory McIlroy was just beginning his post-round interviews when thunder rumbled and the weather siren sounded and everyone was ordered off the course.
For McIlroy it was a chance to get some dinner early. For the Masters, it was the break the tournament might have needed to remain on schedule.
"Can you believe this," one green jacketed member said. "What a deal."
The storms may still come, with a 50 percent chance of rain predicted for Friday. But all 93 players got their full rounds in Thursday despite the best efforts of Mother Nature.
AMATEUR WOES: Alan Dunbar would have been happy to break 80 in the first round after getting his first look at Augusta National this week.
Unfortunately for the amateur from Northern Ireland, he couldn't even do that.
Dunbar made only one par on the front nine Thursday on his way to an 11-over 83 that was the worst score of the day. It included a triple bogey on No. 2, and he didn't make a par until the ninth hole.
"It's definitely a learning experience on a course like this," said the 22-year-old, who qualified for his first Masters by winning the British Amateur.
Dunbar rebounded after a 46 on the front nine to shoot 37 on the back. He even made a birdie on the par-5 15th, and was positive about his day despite the bloated score.
"I enjoyed the whole way around," he said. "I wasn't scoring great, but I enjoyed it. It was a great experience. "
RACING AROUND: Rickie Fowler used to race motocross, so he knows a few things about crashes and spills.
After making double bogey on the first hole Thursday, he could have stayed down. But Fowler came back to play the next 17 holes in 6-under and put himself in contention after the first round of the Masters.
Afterward, Fowler was asked to compare the roller coaster round to a motocross race.
"I would have went down pretty hard on the first corner and probably been out of the race," Fowler said. "Yeah, could have been a pile up in the first corner, so I would have been heading back to the pits."
Fowler was even happier that he had few problems with his back after spending much of the last year battling back issues. He said he kept the back problem mostly quiet as he worked his way through it.
DRIVERLESS DONALD: Luke Donald is a man in search of a driver.
Donald's opening around was going smoothly enough when he looked down at his driver on the 14th hole and noticed it had a crack in it. He managed to finish the round at 1-under 71, but will have to put a new driver in the bag for the rest of the Masters.
"It's going to be tough," Donald said. "I'm going to have to get some drivers here as quickly as possible and obviously not having teed up one, having a fresh one, it's not where you really want to be. But I'll manage."
Donald made six birdies on a day when he said the greens were as soft and slow as he's seen them in the nine years he has played in the Masters.