AUGUSTA, Ga. — Chattanooga senior Steven Fox (Hendersonville, Tenn.) opened the 77th Masters with a 4-over par round of 76 on Thursday. He played his first nine holes at even par, turning at 36, before shooting 40 on the back nine.
Fox thought he left plenty of strokes on the course.
“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I missed multiple, multiple birdie opportunities. I struck the ball well, played the par 5s I think even, and then I played the par 3s well, and the par 4s weren't too bad. Just got to make those birdie opportunities.
“If I made the putts that I had—there was the one on seven that just snuck by, and then two par 5s, 13 and 15, missing five footers that weren't that difficult of putts. If I made just those two, or two out of the three, shoot 2 over and I’m inside the cut line probably.”
Fox is tied for 70th with playing partner Ian Poulter, Ben Curtis, Paul Lawrie, Hunter Mahan, Ted Potter, Jr., Kevin Streelman, Robert Garrigus, Carl Pettersson, Martin Laird and Branden Grace. His other group member today, 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson shot 75.
Marc Leishman and Sergio Garcia lead at six-under 66. Dustin Johnson is third, a stroke back at 67, while six are tied for fourth at 68, minus four, headlined by former champion Fred Couples.
Fox’s card included one birdie, 12 pars and five bogeys. He hit four of 14 fairways, nine of 18 greens and had 31 putts.
Fox played with Watson and four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods was in the group behind him. He admitted to having butterflies on the first tee, but he quickly settled down after that.
“It was fun,” Fox said. “I enjoyed it. After the second tee shot my nerves went away. I was confident with my swing. The noise of the galleries didn't bother me. I enjoyed (the par-3) 16 today, got a little roar there, hitting a good shot, which is awesome. Feels like I have a lot of fans out there, so the more the galleries, the better.”
Despite the rough back nine, Fox will take away good memories of his first round in a major championship.
“I’ll probably remember just those butterflies on 1, but then also those great shots that I hit out there,” Fox said. “It's awesome hitting some good shots and having the crowd roar.”