Campbell steals the show

The Baltimore Sun

AUGUSTA, Ga. -The fans wanted to witness history, and Chad Campbell strived to supply it.

Not long after the soft-spoken Texan set a Masters record by making birdies on his first five holes, the patrons shouted words of encouragement.


"One more!"

"Get to 10!"

Campbell's birdie on No. 16 got him to 9-under par, but he retreated with bogeys on 17 and 18 for a still-sterling 65 that left him wanting more.

"Leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth," he said after falling two strokes shy of the course-record 63 - but five better than Tiger Woods.

On a warm and sunny day with barely a breeze, Woods' favorite Sunday color ruled the opening round of the Masters. Red numbers blanketed the leader board.

Woods didn't supply a single one because his name never appeared on the board. Woods was 1-over through eight holes and even through 12.

A birdie-birdie-birdie run ended with a blown 10-footer on 16 and a lip-out on 17. He bogeyed 18 from the fairway, leading to a brief post-round TV interview. Woods probably wanted to break the microphone over his good knee.

"I knew the back nine could be had," Woods said. "I was in position to shoot 4- or 5-under-par."

And how did his first major since reconstructive knee surgery in June feel?

"It felt the same," he said. "I just sort of plodded along."

Competitors such as Campbell, Jim Furyk (66) and Hunter Mahan (66) soared past him.

Larry Mize, the 1987 Masters champion who has survived just one cut here since 2001, shot 67. Greg Norman missed a three-footer on No. 18 for a 69. Anyone interested in a Mize-Norman playoff rematch?

Campbell isn't. Not after making all those birdies.

At 34, Campbell admits he has underachieved, having won only twice on the PGA Tour since 2005. He went 2-1-0 as a captain's pick for the victorious 2008 Ryder Cup team, but ...

"I haven't done as much as I'd like to," he said.

Campbell hails from a state of rich oil fields, but as an interview, he sometimes comes across as a dry well.

In a Q&A; on the PGA Tour's Web site, he listed his favorite beverage as water and said he had "no idea" of the best shot of his career.

And it seemed appropriate Thursday that Campbell wore a white shirt and white hat with dark slacks. Playing partner Boo Weekley wore an orange cap with hints of camouflage.

But Campbell came up with a good line Thursday afternoon, joking of the player-friendly conditions at Augusta National: "They felt sorry for us, I guess."

The tee was up on No. 1, allowing Campbell to reach the uphill par-4 with a 7-iron. Campbell also believed that Nos. 7, 10 and 11 were shortened and spoke of several generous pin positions.

"If you hit good shots," he said, "you really got rewarded."

The course yielded a scoring average of 72.25 with 38 (of 96) players breaking par. Last year those numbers were 74.18 and 18. The 2007 first-round scores were even worse: 76.19 and just nine players under par.

"It was," said Mahan, who shot 66 despite a double-bogey on 11, "a perfect day to score."

at a glance

Final three rounds: Friday-Sunday

TV: ESPN (Friday, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and chs. 13, 9 (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.)

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