Sungjae Im – photo Getty Images

Two time PGA Tour winner, Korean Sungjae Im, leads after day one of the 2022 Masters, the runner-up in 2020 producing five birdies and one eagle in his round of 67 to lead by one over the man he tied for second with in 2020, Australian Cameron Smith.

Im was also going well in round one of last year’s Masters before a horrendous quadruple bogey nine at the par five 15th saw him eventually miss the cut but he clearly has a comfort zone with the layout and suggested as much afterwards.

“It was great to have a great finish at my Masters debut, and because of that experience I feel comfortable when I come to Augusta,” said Im when asked to compare his performance today to two years ago when on debut.  I feel like I can play well here every time.

“My preparation stays the same for each tournament, but I felt like my driving game was not as up to par as what it used to be, so I worked on my driving, and today the key to a successful round was having good tee shots, so that worked well today.

“It’s a great memory that I’ll carry on with me. Just to finish runner-up here in the Masters is a feat that I really am proud of. But again, we’re only one day in. I’ve got three more days to play. I just want to keep this momentum going and try to finish well this week.”

Cameron Smith staged a remarkable recovery from a disconcerting start to his 2022 Masters, his round of 68 bookended by double bogeys at the 1st and 18th holes.

In between, however, there was much to get excited about as he produced eight birdies in twelve holes to reach 6 under for the day when he birdied the 16th and although a wild drive at the 18th led to a final double bogey, his rebound was a stunning recovery and leaves him alone in 2nd place heading into round two.

“Yeah, you know, to be honest, those couple of double bogeys really didn’t have too bad a shots in them, said Smith explaining the misadventures. It’s not like I was scratching it out of the trees. Got my second shot into a reasonable spot and just misjudged the wind on both wedges. Yeah, just left myself in a bit of a tough spot.

“I love this place. I know it presents plenty of birdies. I just really had to get in a groove. I hit a great drive down the second and went into the bunker, which again was quite frustrating, but after probably the fourth or fifth hole there, started getting on a bit of a trot and started seeing those good iron shots go pretty close.”

Smith was determined not to let the two double bogeys dominate the conversation and his mindset ahead of the next few rounds.

“I’ve moved on already. The less you guys bring it up, the less, the quicker I’ll forget about it. No, I’m done with it. I think the stuff in between was really nice, and yeah, just take the positives out of it.”

Smith trails the first-round leader, Sungjae Im by one shot and leads the Australians with Min Woo Lee and Marc Leishman the next best at 1 over, in 31st place and five behind Smith.

Lee’s effort on debut was impressive especially recovering from an opening bogey with three birdies in his next four holes although a double bogey at the 6th again had him on the back foot. He would lose his way through the middle of the round but a birdie at the 16th ensured an encouraging start to what will surely be a long term Masters career.

“Unbelievable,” said Lee when asked to describe the experience. “First round, I got it going early and just made a silly double on 6, but that’s Augusta National. It was pretty brutal towards the end. The course was tough, and I didn’t hit too good of shots, but I’m happy with my score. First time around, and I thought there was a lot of good things out there.”

Leishman, too, made a slow start and in fact was 2 over through 9 holes but finding the green in two at the dangerous 15th led to a birdie and he is not too far from the action heading into day two.

“It was definitely there for the taking,” said Leishman. “It was gettable. Greens after the rain last night were not quite what we were used to. I didn’t quite adjust to it. I felt like I hit it well enough to shoot a really good score.

“Yeah, looking forward to tomorrow. Got a morning tee time. Looks like the wind is going to be up, so I think experience will play a pretty big part tomorrow, and I have plenty of that around here, and playing in the wind as well.

I mean, even though it wasn’t the day I was after today, I’m upbeat about tomorrow and the rest of the week, so looking forward to it. We’ll try and rest up tonight and be ready to go tomorrow morning.”

Adam Scott made a nice start with a birdie at the 2nd but he struggled through the middle of the round before two late birdies saved the day and a round of 74.

Lucas Herbert was round in 74 and although not the start he was looking for a double bogey at the 12th made the round look worse than it perhaps was.

“It was pretty cool,” said Herbert of his first competitive round at the Masters. “It was just interesting to see how it all plays in the tournament. Yeah, just a very cool experience at the same time as being quite nice. Yeah, just get out there and play some golf around here and keep a scorecard in your pocket on some of these crazy greens and holes.

“I feel like I had the greens pretty well under control. The speed wasn’t great, but it sort of feels like the first time out here it’s very hard to get the greens, to figure out which way some of these putts are breaking. I feel like I picked a few putts, a few lines that were quite tricky, so I was pretty proud of that.

“Just proud of sort of battling away. I’m not too far away. I think 4 or 5-under might be leading now. You play well tomorrow morning, and you’re not that far away again. So I haven’t shot myself out of the tournament, I guess.”

Cameron Davis was round in 75 to be tied for 60th after round one. The score was not what he had hoped for but the experience was – and some.

“It’s been awesome, said the New South Welshman. “I’ve loved every second of it. The par three contest was a lot of fun. It was so fun to have all the family in there and actually play inside the ropes with everyone around again today, but the whole week has just been a dream come true for me.

“It’s just a matter of making sure that when I’m out there tomorrow, I’m just reading the greens the way they need to be read and just making sure the speed control is good, but I feel like tee to green it’s in a good place right now. It’s just seeing how that all turns up in the morning when it’s tournament time, but the prep has been good. I’m happy with where I am and what I’ve done up to this point, yeah.”