April 10, 2009–The storied grounds at Augusta National and The Masters was the site of some very dramatic golf during the first round, and a lot of it was generated by Las Vegas golfer and former UNLV Rebel All-American Chad Campbell. He became the only golfer to ever birdie the first five holes of The Masters, and then followed that with a four-birdie-in-a-row stretch on the back nine. Now Campbell has done something that Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods never have, and following his birdie flourish, he was in the lead at 7-under par going to sleep in Augusta on Thursday. LIVE SCORING/RESULTS.
"I was pretty excited," said Campbell, a laid back Texan who didn't show much emotion, even when the patrons at Augusta yelled out to him to break the course record of 63. "You can't get too excited after five holes; you have a lot of golf left. I was trying to hit good golf shots to try to give myself as many opportunities as I could. There were some birdies to be made out there, but if you hit a couple of bad shots, you can make bogeys out there as well." Campbell sputtered at the end of the round when he made bogeys on 17 and 18, but was still the sole leader following his Augusta brilliance.
"(I'm) definitely happy the way the round started," said Campbell. "I got off on a roll, and it's always nice to make a couple of birdies to start, much less five. It was definitely the way I wanted to start. I felt like I was hitting it good all day. I think one of most important things today was making those two saves on 10 and 11, the par saves on 10 and 11 kind of kept the round going. Unfortunately, I ended up with two bogeys to finish, but overall, pretty happy with the round." The round also catapulted Campbell to a betting favorite as his odds to win the Masters, according to GolfOdds.com, jumped from 125-1 at the start of the tournament, to 15-1 following that first round.
Campbell is one of three Las Vegas golfers playing in the Masters with strong ties to Las Vegas, joining Las Vegas resident Nick Watney and former UNLV golfer Adam Scott. Watney settled for an opening round of 70, while Scott fired a 1-under par 71. Watney and Scott are coached by Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco Golf Club. Rio Secco Golf Club is a Las Vegas resort golf course that was designed by Rees Jones and is owned by Harrah's Golf. Harrah's Golf also operates Cascata, another Rees Jones design that Sports Illustrated once called "Golf's Hidden Treasure." You can click now to view the beautiful T-Mate caddies at Rio Secco Golf Club or to reserve your official Las Vegas golf tee times directly through RioSecco.net.
Even though reporters quizzed Campbell about potentially being in a zone, he told them that he didn't feel anything, other than that when things are going well, it's a little bit easier to go for broke. "Like I said before, alls I'm trying to do out there is hit one shot at a time," said Campbell in his soft, Texas drawl. "I know it's kind of cliché, but it's really all you can do, especially out here. Like I said, you get one bad shot and you're behind the 8-ball, no telling. That's what I was trying to do and definitely felt good with my swing and good with the stroke, as well. So when you feel that way, you can be a little bit more aggressive than usual." Nicklaus, Palmer and Woods couldn't have said it any better.