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Ian Poulter: The 43-year-old Englishman who always seems to rise to the occasion on a big stage did it again Thursday. He tied his career low opening round at the Masters, carding a 68. The score comes on the heels of a recent practice round at Augusta with club member and former Gophers coach Lou Holtz.


Paul Casey: A year ago he walked off the 18th green on Sunday at Augusta with a career-best 65. Thursday, playing in the same group as co-leader Brooks Koepka, Casey opened with a career-worst 9-over 81. Only Angel Cabrera (82) had a worse day.


Jason Day: Another tournament, another balky back flare-up for the Australian. Shortly before teeing off, according to the ESPN broadcast, Day picked up his daughter and reached for his lower back in pain. Day's management team later said he did not pick up his daughter, but did lean down to give her a kiss. Day, who withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, made his 1:48 p.m. tee time but called for a physical trainer on No. 2 and was flat on his back while receiving treatment. The former PGA Championship winner winced and shuffled throughout the round but it didn't affect his swing. He grinded out a 2-under 70, in the most pain when retrieving his ball out of the cup.


Corey Connors: What will the 27-year-old Canadian do for his next trick? The last guy into the Masters left no doubt he deserved his spot. Connors, who had to go through a six-man playoff during Monday qualifying just to get into last week's Texas Open, won the event to get an improbable invite. He flew on a private jet to Augusta, got settled for the year's first major and was out in Thursday's first group. That allowed him a chance to watch Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit the ceremonial first tee shots. On his way back to the clubhouse after his one and only swing, Nicklaus stopped to congratulate Conners. After that Cloud Nine moment, he rolled in back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes before making eagle at the par-5 15th and finished 2 under.


• Phil Mickelson birdied five of the last seven holes to shoot 67, his lowest opening-round score since winning in 2010.

• Two-time winner Bernhard Langer's 71 was his 42nd career round under par at the Masters, moving ahead of Arnold Palmer for ninth all time.

• Wilhelm Schauman, a key golfer on the Gophers team that won the 2002 national title, is covering the Masters for a Swedish television station.


Par-4, 495-yard No. 5: The revamped "Magnolia" hole showed its teeth in the opening round. Stretched some 40 yards from years past thanks to a new tee box, players found the added length difficult to navigate. Only four walked off the green with a birdie, while 26 carded a bogey or worse.


"I'm making mistakes from pretty simple positions."

— Rory McIlroy, after making six bogeys on the way to carding a 1-over 73.


"Real men wear Koepka's hat."

— Former PGA Tour player and current Golf Channel analyst @AaronOberholser, on Thursday's loud headwear choice by the Round 1 co-leader.


Thursday's afternoon wave set the course on fire with a surge of rounds in the 60s. What will those players do for an encore in the morning? Follow for early coverage. ESPN picks up at 2 p.m.