Dustin Johnson out of Masters, Charley Hoffman soaring

It appeared McIlroy might move into red figures on 18 after honing in on his second shot, but it hit the flagstick and careened off the green. Augusta isn't the course to play catch-up on, so it's absolutely essential that he shoots even-par or under par over the first couple of days to keep himself within touching distance, and Rahm should be the ideal partner to ignite this fire in McIlroy.

But for those chalking it up to a weather oddity, five Brits finished in the top 10 in last spring's tournament, including its victor Danny Willett.

Hoffman, who shot a 7-under 65 Thursday, bogeyed five out of six holes in his second round to fall back.

4 Stroke lead for Charley Hoffman, the largest first-round lead since 1955, when Jack Burke led by the same margin over Julius Boros.

By the time Dustin Johnson's tee time came around, he had already spent Thursday morning trying to see if his back would allow him to play in The Masters.

Gusts approaching 40 miles per hour confounded golfers and completely eliminated those who like to hit it high.

He did that, and then some.

Hoffman just never stopped making birdies.

"I would have ripped someone's hand off for a 72 on the 10th tee".

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A huge field of players finished one under par, including Brits Justin Rose, Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick as well as American golfers Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Russell Henley and Kevin Chappell.

Johnson missed the 2012 Masters, withdrawing two days before the start of the tournament, saying he had tweaked his back from pulling a jet ski out of the water. He had won his past three events - two of them World Golf Championship titles - and felt he was in as good a shape as ever coming to Augusta National.

Johnson hurt his lower back Wednesday at the house he was renting. "To pull out of the Masters when you're in the kind of form he's in, it must be a very hard decision to make. I'm not the guy that's going to stand out there and try to hit it over the trees on 13", he said. The paint can, swinging from a rope, when he opens the front door seems a little mean. And there is video proof that Charley Hoffman actually played Augusta National and not the local Pirates Cove putt-putt. The putts started going in the hole - as simple as that sounds.

After two early bogeys to his round, he was at 1-over through five holes. This time, he minimized the damage.

Jordan Spieth made quadruple bogey on the back nine at Augusta National again. On Thursday, he took another quad with a 9 on the par-5 15th.

Defending champion Danny Willett was the only player to make an eagle, but there were also 34 birdies and just one double bogey.

Consider the final three-hole stretch Rahm's first lesson in keeping his guard up. He three-putted the fifth hole for bogey, both putts affected by the wind.

"If you catch the wrong gust at the wrong time, then you look stupid, like I did on 12", Thomas Pieters said. "But that's just Augusta, I guess".

Just not what anyone expected.


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