8 Apr 2016

Danny Lee tied for second at Masters

12:00 pm on 8 April 2016

New Zealand golfer Danny Lee is tied for second after the first round at the US Masters at Augusta National.

Lee shot a four under par 68, which included six birdies and two bogies.

"I can't ask for any better place to finish after the first round. I was very pleased with my round today, it's exciting to see my name there (near the top of the leaderboard)," Lee said.

Danny Lee

Danny Lee Photo: Photosport

The New Zealander is back at the Masters for a second time, seven years after his first appearance at Augusta as the US Amateur Champion.

Lee said it was special to be back at the famous course.

"Ever since you started playing golf as a kid you grow up watching Masters. I was watching Tiger Woods shooting four over on the front nine and winning the Masters and I still remember that round and it's just good to see my name up there on that leaderboard."

Lee said it was one of the best rounds of his career.

"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 gust. It was very hard to commit to the line of the putt 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."

Lee is two shots off the lead held by defending champion Jordan Spieth, who sits at six under par after his first round.

Spieth's love affair with Augusta National continued as he shot a flawless six-under-par 66.

The American world number two, bidding to become only the fourth player to claim back-to-back Masters victories, took advantage of relatively calm morning conditions to storm to the top of the leaderboard.

Shaking off a run of inconsistent form in recent weeks on the PGA Tour, Spieth sank a six-footer at the third, a 13-footer at the sixth and a four-footer at the eighth to reach the turn in three-under 33.

He then picked further shots at the 10th, 13th and 18th, where he rolled in a six-foot putt before pumping his fist in celebration, to finish three ahead of playing competitor Paul Casey of England in the year's opening major championship.

Jordan Spieth.

Jordan Spieth Photo: Photosport

Ernie Els suffered an embarrassing start to his 22nd Masters when he required seven putts from a short distance on the first green to post a record-high 10 on the par-four hole.

The four-times major champion and former world No.1 has struggled with short putts for more than a year, but he felt earlier this season that he had overcome what golfers refer to as the yips.

But his short-putt troubles returned in nightmarish fashion after Els' third shot, a chip, came to rest just shy of three feet from the cup at the opening hole.

Ernie Els had a first hole meltdown at the Masters.

Ernie Els had a first hole meltdown at the Masters. Photo: Photosport

The 46-year-old South African went back and forth missing putts of similar distances.

When his effort for triple bogey missed left, his playing competitor, world No.1 Jason Day, turned away.

Els tried to gather himself before his putt for quadruple bogey.

He grinned as he stood behind his ball, stepped up and missed again. He one-handed and missed his sixth attempt before tapping in for a 10.

The previous Masters high score on Augusta National's opening hole was eight, recorded by Olin Browne and Scott Simpson in 1998 and matched in 2001 by the late Billy Casper, who was 69 at the time, and India's Milkha Singh in 2007.