Brett Wetterich breathed a sigh of relief – in all probability the first of many – when he retained a share of the lead on resuming the Masters at Augusta today.
Three under-par overnight with Britain’s Justin Rose the Ryder Cup American, playing in the event for the first time, teed off again just before 9am whereas Rose had to wait until almost 2.15pm.
The 455-yard opening hole played the second toughest of the first day with only two birdies (by Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh) and when Wetterich left his 30-foot first putt six feet short it looked as if it might claim another victim.
But he made the par-saving putt to keep himself and Rose one ahead of David Howell and David Toms.
Playing with Wetterich again was another Ryder Cup player, Lee Westwood, and although he also parred his task was different – surviving the halfway cut after a 79 which was the highest score of his Masters career.
The same applied to Seve Ballesteros’ 86 on his return to the event after four holes, but thanks to a brilliant short game the twice winner, 50 next Monday, covered the first four holes this morning in one-under.
How he did it almost defied belief. His opening shot – with the new square-headed driver which other players have said has given them added accuracy - started left and curved further left.
It finished just off the adjoining ninth fairway, but Ballesteros had a 20-foot gap between two of the tall pines and smashed a three-wood just off the green, lofted a chip to five feet and made the putt.
He went left again down the par five second and from the trees once more went across the fairway, pitched to four feet and sank the birdie putt.
Just over the green at the 350-yard third he almost chipped in and when he got up and down from a bunker on the next he had used his putter just four times and appeared intent on beating Rose’s amazing 20 putts on the first day.
It was a huge contrast to his 86, which contained no birdies, seven pars, eight bogeys and three double bogeys.
“Everything went wrong a hundred times over,” he said.
Next week the ex-Ryder Cup captain, playing his first tournament since missing the cut at the Open last July and only his fourth since the end of the 2003 season, becomes eligible for the seniors tour.
But on that he also commented: “At one point I will decide, but right now I don’t have the answer.”