Solid start for Spieth at Augusta, Zach Johnson an early leader


Jordan Spieth made an encouraging opening to his Masters defence as the early starters looked to set a target on day one at Augusta.

Last year's wire-to-wire winner was out alongside Paul Casey and highly-rated amateur Bryson DeChambeau at 9:48am local time, and all three men were soon into red figures.

Spieth was forced into a late change of equipment on the eve of the event after cracking his driver, but appeared comfortable with the new club as he found the middle of the first fairway.

After DeChambeau had birdied the second, Spieth then made his first gain of the week at the third following an excellent approach, before saving par at the next with a fine up-and-down.

Casey picked up a shot at the fourth to join his playing partners, while Rickie Fowler was also one under after following a double bogey at the first with birdies at the second, third and fifth.

Louis Oosthuizen, Thongchai Jaidee and two-time champion Tom Watson - playing his final Masters at the age of 66 - were also a shot to the good, but it was Austria's Bernd Wiesberger and 2007 winner Zach Johnson who held the early lead at two under through seven holes.

Wiesberger was the third man to reach two under, with Jaidee briefly hitting the same mark and Jim Herman, who booked his spot at Augusta with victory at last week's Shell Houston Open, birdieing the first two holes only to slip back thereafter.

Johnson, meanwhile, recorded back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh, the latter courtesy of a lengthy putt.

World number one Jason Day was among the later starters, together with Bubba Watson - Masters champion in two of the last four years - and Rory McIlroy.