UVA junior men’s golfer Derek Bard (New Hartford, N.Y.) completed his first round of play at the 2016 Masters Tournament by shooting 4-over 76 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Despite struggling off the tee during his second nine holes, Bard managed to grind out a respectable score on a day when the wind was gusting in excess of 30 miles per hour and some Masters veterans compared the speed of the greens to what they usually experience during Sunday’s final round.
Not surprisingly, Bard had mixed emotions after the round. He felt he left several birdie putts on the front nine, but was proud of keeping his composure and battling the back nine when he could not find a fairway.
By the time the day’s final score was posted, Bard was tied for 59th place in the 89-man field. He posted the same score as six former Masters champions.
“It’s tough,” Bard said of his first competitive round at the Masters. “It’s mentally draining. I was hitting it all over the map, left and right off the tee.
“The wind picked up and it was a little tricky. The greens got baked up pretty good…they’re so fast. My swing kind of fell apart there on the back, but I hung in there, made some good putts for par. It could have really gotten ugly.”
Paired with Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, and Robert Streb, Bard was in the second group to tee off. Despite being nervous in front of a large gallery gathered around the first tee, he hit his tee shot down the middle of the fairway.
“I was really okay after the first shot,” Bard said. “I was nervous on one the whole time but I hit a great tee shot, hit it on the green and two-putted. It was the easiest par I could imagine.”
It did not take long for Bard to have what he called his most memorable moment of the day.
After hitting his drive to the middle of the fairway on the par-5 second hole, his approach shot went wide left. He required relief from a cart path and faced a wedge shot over a small mound onto a green that sloped away from him.
Bard chipped on and saw the ball skip across the green and then spin back to within three feet of the hole. The shot drew a huge ovation from the crowd surrounding the green. He made the putt and had his first birdie at the Masters.
“Birdieing two is where I really settled down,” Bard said.
Bard bogeyed the third hole and then proceeded to post five consecutive pars on holes four through eight.
“I got a little unlucky on three,” Bard said. “I got a jumper out of that rough. It was kind of my Welcome to the Masters Moment when I’m over the back and chip it down to the front of the green. That’s when I was like, ‘Wow,’ they weren’t kidding when they said these greens were fast.”
Over his next five holes, birdie was within reach several times but he could not execute on a series of putts from 10 to 15 feet. His closest shot at dropping back below par came on the par-five eighth hole when his 12-foot birdie put hit the cup and spun out.
“Four through eight, I had makeable birdie putts on all of them and didn’t hole one of them, so I was a little disappointed,” he said.
The only three-putt of his round came on the ninth hole when he landed his approach shot on the backside of the green in a near impossible location to putt at the hole. Instead, he had to putt up a slope, away from the cup, and then watch his ball speed down the green 10 feet pass the hole.
On the back nine Bard struggled with his driver, hitting just one fairway in regulation. It was his putting that saved him. Time after time he managed to make challenging putts on the slippery greens to save par or avoid a double bogey.
He started his second nine with back-to-back bogeys and stood at 3-over as he approached the famous par-3 12th hole.
Bard hit his eight iron 35 feet left of the hole, took his stroll over the famous Hogan bridge that crosses Rae’s Creek and promptly drained the long putt for a birdie that was punctuated by a rare fist pump from the usually even-keeled Cavalier.
“That was huge coming off three straight bogeys,” Bard said. “So many things can go wrong on that tee shot with the wind swirling down there. Rolling the putt was big.”
He one-putted the next three greens for pars to enter his final three holes at 2-over. During that stretch he avoided disaster on the 14th hole when he threaded his second shot through several trees to the back of the green.
“I wish I had taken advantage of 13 through 15, but didn’t, had to grind for pars on all three of them,” Bard said.
He had bogeys on 16 and 18 to finish off his round.
“I didn’t really hit one good shot,” he said. “To play those six holes in two over, it’s not ideal because obviously that’s a stretch you want to make some birdies, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Bard hit the practice area in the afternoon and worked with UVA head coach Bowen Sargent on his swing.
“Hopefully I can match them (driving and putting) up tomorrow in a good way,” Bard said. “It kind of goes to show that this course was a tough test today. Fast greens, wind picking up, pins in tough spots. It’s not easy. Lot of guys were struggling. I think I’ll be okay going into tomorrow.”
- Bard hit nine of 18 greens in regulation and seven of 14 fairways. He had 30 putts during his round and just one three-putt over 18 holes. His fairways hit percentage (.500) tied for 80th in the field. His greens in regulations percentage (.500) tied for 63rd among all competitors.
- Bard finished the first round ranked No. 38 in the 89-player field in driving distance with a 275.5 yard average.
- Bard made par on the par-4 first hole at the Masters which proved to be the second hardest hole of the first round with a 4.360 average. The hardest hole of the day was the 505-yard par-4 11th hole. He posted a bogey on it.
- Bard was one of just six players to record a birdie on the par-3 12th hole at Amen Corner.
- Bard’s putting average (1.67, 30 over 18 holes) tied for 32nd in the first round.