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Garrick Higgo and Charl Schwartzel off to solid starts at The Masters

Garrick Higgo of South Africa reacts to his birdie on the first hole during the first round of the 2022 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, USA, 7 April 2022. Picture: Justine Lane/EPA

Garrick Higgo of South Africa reacts to his birdie on the first hole during the first round of the 2022 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, USA, 7 April 2022. Picture: Justine Lane/EPA

Published Apr 8, 2022

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Centurion - Debutant Garrick Higgo and 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel both carded level par 72s in the first round of The Masters at Augusta on Thursday.

South Korea’s Sungjae Im led the way on five-under 67, with Australia’s Cameron Smith a shot behind on four-under 68.

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The 22-year-old Higgo began with a birdie at the par four first, before falling to one-over with bogeys at five and six. At the long and difficult par four 11th, Higgo made a double bogey to drop to three-over for his round.

However, the PGA Tour event winner rallied with a birdie at the par five 13th, before another at the par five 15th. His final birdie of the round came at the par three 16th as he moved back to level par.

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The left-hander parred the final two holes to complete an impressive opening round in his first Masters in a tie for 19th.

Higgo said after his round: “ I was definitely nervous. I was fine the whole week, and then walking to the tee, I was, like, this is real. That's why we're here. I wouldn't want it any other way.”

The real surprise from a South African perspective was Schwartzel’s good round, as the 37-year-old had no form at all coming into the event as he has missed his last six cuts in a row.

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In fact, Schwartzel was tied for the lead on two-under after four holes after he picked up birdies at the par five second and par three fourth.

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Having made the turn in two-under, Schwartzel battled around Amen Corner with bogeys at 11 and then another at the par three 12th. However, with two birdies and two bogeys and 14 pars it was a tidy opening round for the former world number six.

Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout both shot one-over 73 for a tie for 31st.

Another surprise for SA golf fans was Louis Oosthuizen who battled his way to four-over 76. The 2010 Open champion was paired with the returning Tiger Woods, and struggled to match the 15-time major winner’s opening one-under 71.

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