By Patrick Donahue
Assistant Sports Editor
AUGUSTA, Ga. It was a tough day for the pros and even tougher for the amateurs.
U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari, playing with 2005 Masters champ Tiger Woods in the clubs traditional pairing of the defending winner with the national amateur titleholder, made double bogeys at the 11th and 13th. He finished at 8-over. Molinari beat Dillon Dougherty in the U.S. Amateur finals and Dougherty carded an 81. Brian McElhinney, the British Amateur champion, shot an 80.
Clay Ogden, whose win the U.S. Amateur Public Links earned him a spot in the field, had an 83 and thats with two birdies. He also posted the dreaded snowman an 8 on the par-4 ninth.
Kevin Marsh turned in the best round by any of the five amateurs, with a 79. Marsh won the U.S. Mid Amateur last year at the Honors Course, getting an automatic invitation to the Masters. Marsh played with 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler and Padraig Harrington.
Home, sweet home
Augusta native and Augusta State grad Vaughn Taylor got off to a rocky start in his first Masters, but he still managed a respectable 75 for his first round.
It wasnt my best round, but it was nothing to be ashamed of, he said. It took me a while to get comfortable. I had a great time. It was what I expected. Its the best event in the world.
His playing partner, Rocco Mediate, tried to settle him down early in the round.
I told him there are no green jackets hanging in the trees. Just go play golf, Mediate said.
Lucas Glover, who played his college golf at Clemson, figured hes been to the Masters more than a dozen times to watch. He has given out his allotment of tickets eight and saw plenty of familiar faces in the gallery.
Theyll pat you on the back, whether you shoot 65 or 85, he said.
Glover, also playing his first Masters, carded a 1-over 73.
You dont want to shoot off your big toe on Thursday, he said. I took some chances on the front and paid for them. Youve got to be careful and pick your spots.
Augusta native Charles Howell III posted an 81, his worst round by five shots at the Masters.
Tough day for other former champs
Sitting at 7-over-par 79 was a fearsome foursome of past Masters champions, Nick Faldo, Ray Floyd, Gary Player and Tom Watson. They have combined for nine green jackets.
Neither Faldo nor Floyd made a birdie. Watson had one, at the par-5 eighth, and Player, playing in one of the early groups, was among the leaders when he birdied the first. He sandwiched bogeys around a birdie on the eighth to make the turn at 2-over, but made more bogeys (five) than pars (four) on the back nine.
My goal was to break 80, Player said.
Still, they were thrilled with the conditions, if not their results.
I dont remember playing in such perfect conditions, Floyd said.
Other former champs struggling included Fuzzy Zoeller (78), Ian Woosnam (77), Craig Stadler (77) and Jose Maria Olazabal (76).
Going forth on the fourth
Player wielded his driver on the fourth hole, which measured 249 yards for Thursdays round. Ben Crenshaw pulled out his 3-wood. Olin Browne used a 7-wood and his playing partner, Rod Pampling, the leader for much of the morning, used a 2-iron. Tiger Woods used a 3-iron.
Typically one of the courses hardest holes, the fourth yielded only four birdies to Oberholser, Tim Clark, Chris DiMarco and Scott Verplank.
A first for Woods
Tiger Woods eagle on the par-4 14th was his first on a par-4 hole in his 12 trips to the Masters. Woods used an 8-iron from 163 yards out.
It landed soft and somehow found the bottom, he said.
Back in black
It might have been difficult to discern Todd Hamilton from Retief Goosen at a distance. Both players were clad in all-black, the only difference being Goosens white shoes. It might have been a good thing that they have Mike Weir in their group and not Peter Lonard, who also was in an all-black getup.