Leishman has clubhouse lead at Masters

McDowell one over after 73, Harrington six over following disastrous 78

Mark Leishman of Australia hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during first round play in the 2013 Masters. Photograph:  Mark Blinch/Reuters

Mark Leishman of Australia hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during first round play in the 2013 Masters. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

 

Australian Marc Leishman took the clubhouse lead in the Masters after carding four birdies in a row from the 13th to move to six under par.

He edged ahead of England’s David Lynn, who described qualifying for the Masters as a dream come true, might be forgiven for thinking he had yet to wake up after setting the clubhouse target on his tournament debut today.

Playing only the third Major of his career after securing his place by finishing second to Rory McIlroy at the US PGA Championship last year, Lynn carded a four-under-par 68 in the first round at Augusta National.

The 39-year-old from Stoke, who has just one win in almost 400 European Tour events, carded six birdies and two bogeys to lead by one from Jim Furyk and Justin Rose, who were both approaching the end of their rounds.

“It’s not a bad thing to see your name up there, it’s something you can always look back on, but there’s a lot to be done and hopefully I can keep my name up there,” Lynn said. “When I am on my game I know I can compete at this level and Kiawah Island (for the US PGA) confirmed it to me. It gave me a bit of extra belief.”

Out in the third group at 8:22am local time, world number 53 Lynn birdied the first, eighth and ninth to be out in 33, and after a dropped shot on the 10th, hit back with birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th, where he pitched to three feet.

A bogey on the 17th looked like being followed with another on the 18th when he was faced with a 12ft putt for par, but he holed out to complete a brilliant debut round.

The Irish challenge got off to a limp start with Graeme McDowell finishing on one over and Pádraig Harrington slumping to a six-over-par 78 after a round that included two double-bogeys.

Rory McIlroy was two under after nine but amateur Alan Dunbar was 10 over through 15.

World number one Tiger Woods finished wtih a 70 for two under but defending champion Bubba Watson has work to do tomorrow after a 75.

Damage limitation is a prerequisite in major championships and Lee Westwood was a happy man after drawing on past experience to rebound from an early double-bogey.

The 39-year-old Englishman ran up an ugly six at the par-four first after hitting a tree with his second shot but immediately bounced back with a birdie at the second before ending the day with a two-under-par 70.

"It's a good first round," Westwood told reporters after adding four more birdies, along with a bogey at the 17th, to finish four strokes behind early leader Marc Leishman of Australia at Augusta National. "I played solidly. It wasn't the ideal start, but I did manage a double-bogey in the US Open last year, that sprang to mind, and I fought my way back to have a chance. So there was no panic, really."