The Masters: Danny Lee sits second at Masters

By Simon Plumb at Augusta National Golf Club

Kiwi golfer Danny Lee has delivered one of the rounds of his life on day one of the Masters, tied for second - two strokes off the first round lead of defending champion Jordan Spieth.

On a blustery, difficult opening day at Augusta National, where only 20 of the world's best players went under par, Lee produced an impeccable display of golf, carding a four-under par round of 68.

The New Zealand 25-year-old was almost flawless in his execution of an aggressive game plan, shooting for the pin at every opportunity.

Carding six birdies and two bogeys, Lee acknowledged how hard the conditions were today in describing the round as one of the best of his career.

"That's probably top five. It's tough out there. It's blowing 25 miles per hour all day. There's a lot of times it felt like 50 miles per hour, there's a lot of gusts," Lee said.

"It's very hard to commit to the line on the putting green, because the wind was blowing so hard. And I was just really trying to focus on my routine and I did a great job today.

"I cannot ask for anything better in the first round, I'm very pleased with my round today."

After nailing his drive down the Par 5 second, Lee went for the green in two. Striping a hybrid right at the flag, his ball hit the pin and ricocheted almost off the green - which he said was lucky.

"I was actually pleased at the flag, otherwise it would have gone back over the green and that would have been a very tough up and down from there. I actually had a lot of good breaks today," he said.

Making Lee's score even more impressive, it was his first competitive round with trial caddy Michael Hartford. Three days ago the New Zealand Herald revealed Lee had fired his regular loop of the last two years, Kurt Kowaluk, over differences in opinion.

As far as auditions go, Lee said Hartford's efforts today were excellent - though he is still coming to terms with having to cut Kowaluk loose.

"Obviously it worked very well," Lee said. "It was very hard for me to let my ex caddie go. It was a very, very tough decision for me, and I'm still a little bit upset about it. But we're thinking about different stuff out on the course, and it wasn't matching up very well and I wanted to bring my A-game this week because it means a lot."

Lee trails defending Masters champion Spieth by two after he carded a superb six-under 66 earlier in the day.

Ireland's Shane Lowry is tied for second with Lee on four-under par while there's a log-jam of players tied for fourth on three-under. In that pack are English trio Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, and also Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Jason Day, had an excellent round going - five under through nine holes. However, he completely fell apart at the end the round, dropping five shots on three holes to come in at level par and in a tie for 21st.

Kiwis at Augusta

Kiwis who made the cut:

2003 - Phil Tataurangi - Tied 39th. Was t10 after second round at 1 over - just three shots behind second place. Shot 74 and 78 on the weekend to finish at 9 over. One of only two made cuts in majors for Phil.

1997 - Frank Nobilo 46th - last out of everyone who made the cut. 76 72 74 81, 15 over.

1996 - Nobilo - Fourth. 71 71 72 69. The year where Norman led by 6 with a round to go and finished five shots behind the winner. Was tied 12th when cut was made, tied 9th after 3 rounds.

1973 - Bob Charles T29. Tied 10th after second round.

1972 - Charles T22
1971 - John Lister T42
1970 - Charles 17
1969 - Charles T29
1968 - Charles 19
1965 - Charles T45
1964 - Charles T40
1963 - Charles T15
1962 - Charles T25

- Only four Kiwis have ever made the cut.
- Lee being in a tie for second is the highest a Kiwi has ever been at the completion of a round
-Tied for 10th is the best a Kiwi has ever been when the cut was made.
-One New Zealander has made cut since 1997, two players have made the cut since 1973.
- Nobilo is the best New Zealander by some distance - only top 10 in NZ Masters history.

- NZ Herald

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