Augusta National proved to be the ultimate test that Seamus Power expected it would be as he kicked off his Masters Tournament debut with a two-over 74 in his opening round.
The Waterford man, playing in the first Major of the season for the first time, failed to card a birdie on day one but did keep the mistakes off the scorecard for the most part as he recorded just two bogeys to sit seven shots off Sungjae Im’s early lead.
Power sat out last week’s Valero Texas Open in order to arrive early and get some practice in at Augusta, however the punishing layout would still catch him out as he failed to save par from the back bunker at the fifth, with a wayward drive then costing him at 14.
But he is still in an excellent position to make it into the weekend, even if he perhaps has to go under-par in round two in order to do so, and the 35-year-old admitted he had to dig deep just to sign for a 74.
“You get to test everything because it’s tricky. On 17, Simon (Keelan, his caddy) and I, we were talking, I probably missed my landing spot by two or three spaces, and then you have probably 35 feet coming back instead of on certain courses you might have 10 feet for birdie,” he said.
“So it’s one of those (courses) you do have to hit your spots, and it’s tricky obviously when the breeze is kind of blowing a little bit more like this. It’s very fun because you do have chances. You have tough holes.
“It’s a good mix. I just wasn’t able to quite take advantage on the greens.”
Power only hit 10 greens in regulation in a round where he did have opportunities for birdies but never got any momentum going that could have seen him push into red figures and potentially make a better charge.
He had a look at the second after leaving himself right of the green in two, although he needed a good up-and-down to save par on the fourth prior to that first dropped shot after flying the green with his second shot into the par-four fifth.
The Barbasol Championship winner’s most frustrating missed birdie chance came at the par-four seventh when he left a short uphill birdie putt inches short of the hole, which prompted a bemused laugh, and another look at birdie on the par-five eighth from nine feet was pushed just wide.
Two excellent up-and-downs saved pars at the ninth and 10th, but a frustrating string of routine pars got him stuck in a rut and he would only break out of it when a pushed drive at the 14th yielded another bogey.
Power would finish his round with four routine pars to return to the clubhouse in 74 and he admitted that not being able to get anything going on the greens did cost him – but he did think there was enough good there to believe that, if he stays patient, he will get his opportunities.
“It was tricky. It was very tricky. My speed on the greens was a little bit off, and I just missed a couple of chances in because of it. It was a little frustrating, but I did a lot of good things. So that was kind of encouraging,” said the World No.41.
“I need to take advantage of some of the opportunities I kind of gave myself. So hopefully I can do that tomorrow.
“It’s tough, but you have to just wait for opportunities, and if you can get a good look from below the hole, you feel like you need to make it. I had a couple, and I wasn’t quite able to take advantage.
“Patience is going to be massive. Same thing tomorrow. Good or bad start, you have to stay patient. You will get chances. It’s just a matter of taking them.”