AUGUSTA, April 10: Fred Couples, ignoring disasters all around him, shot a three-under-par 69 in extremely windy conditions to take the first-round lead in the Masters golf championship.
Couples, who matched his best opening round here since he won in 1992, held a one-stroke lead over three other players on a day when strong, swirling winds made play extremely difficult at hilly Augusta National Golf Club. Four others were another shot back at 71, including defending champion Tiger Woods.
The winds, which gusted to 65 kph at times, were the aftermath of a powerful storm that hit the region late Wednesday and forced the championship to be delayed for 90 minutes. As a result 10 players did not complete their rounds, led by David Duval, who was at one-under par after 15 holes.
Couples, who is returning to form after a difficult 1997 in his personal life, finished one shot ahead of former champion Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Stankowski and Scott Hoch, who lost a play-off to Nick Faldo in the 1989 Masters.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.