Lehman rattled by gun incident

American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman scored a first round 76 in the Masters today and then relived one of the scariest moments of his life.

American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman scored a first round 76 in the Masters today and then relived one of the scariest moments of his life.

Late on Tuesday night the former Open champion’s car was shot at as he was driving to Augusta Airport to pick up members of his family.

A bullet hole was found in one of the rear doors and after another incident in the town a 26-year-old man was arrested and jailed.

“It was a very surreal experience,” said Lehman after a round which left him eight adrift of early clubhouse leader Rocco Mediate and nine behind world number two Vijay Singh, who with two to play led by one at five under.

“If it had been coming away from the airport my three-year-old would have been sitting where the bullet hit,” said Lehman.

“Every day you read in the newspapers about crazy stuff and I think he was full of Jack Daniels. I was doing about 50 and he came past me at about 65 with the window down.

“I noticed that because it was cold. Then there was a huge, loud explosion. I flinched, then checked the windscreens and the wheels and when I got out I saw the bullet hole.

“I’m just glad they caught the guy. It was a very random thing and very random things happen in this world. But all’s well that ends well.

“He shot at two teenagers as well and they followed him and got the licence plate.”

Back on the golf course, meanwhile, 2000 winner Singh turned in 31 and then birdied the 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th to move to the head of the field.

Earlier Mediate had come home in 32 to set the clubhouse target on a day when many of golf’s biggest names struggled with the beefed-up lay-out – at 7,445 yards the second longest course in major championship history.

Tiger Woods, almost inevitably, produced the biggest roar of what until then had been a fairly subdued crowd when he holed his second shot to the 440-yard 14th for an eagle two.

But the defending champion, seeking his fifth victory in the event, followed it with a double bogey seven after going into the lake and instantly returned to one over.

That was not causing him any alarms. Woods has never broken 70 in the opening round – and has been able to reel in and overtake those ahead of him.

Darren Clarke sank a bunker shot estimated at 100 feet for an eagle three on the long second and parred the next seven holes to turn in 34 and be in joint fifth place.

One further back on one under following a 71 was David Howell, 11th on his debut last year, but Luke Donald, third on his first appearance 12 months ago, stood two over with one to play.

Padraig Harrington started five, seven – bogey, double bogey – and was four over after just four holes, while Colin Montgomerie also had a seven on the second after tangling with a bunker and with six to play was three over.

Lee Westwood turned in level par, but then double-bogeyed the 10th, while Ian Woosnam, Paul McGinley and Nick Faldo shot 77, 78 and 79 respectively.

Faldo, now 48 and with his son Matthew as his caddie, said: “It’s too difficult for me. I’m not playing well enough, simple as that.

“You need to be playing more and have a lot more self-confidence. I haven’t got the guns.”

Woosnam, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and paired with Lehman, echoed that, saying: “The course is not quite the same as ’91 (his winning year) and my body’s not either. A 77 is not the end of the world, but it’s a tough old slog out there.”

McGinley had a tough time from the moment he double-bogeyed the first, going for a two-foot gap in the trees, but hitting a trunk and shooting across the ninth fairway.

“I thought it was worth the gamble, but my short game was appalling and birdie chances are a lot more limited than when I was last here.”

He was 18th in his one previous Masters in 2002.

British amateur champion Brian McElhinney, from County Donegal, could do no better than 80, while 1988 winner Sandy Lyle stood six over after 10.

Phil Mickelson, second favourite to Woods after his 13-stroke win in Atlanta on Sunday, hit his opening shot into a bunker and bogeyed, but birdied the next and was level par after six.

Playing partner Ernie Els was on the same mark, while Sergio Garcia’s birdies at the second and eighth lifted him alongside Clarke on two under.

Jose Maria Olazabal, twice a winner and runner-up to Mickelson at the weekend, was one over with one to go – even with an eagle at the 13th.

More in this section

Ireland's Top 10 Hidden Gems

Ten of the best golf courses in Ireland that too few people know about.

Read Here
Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox