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  • Danny Willett Roars Back With Stellar Start At Weather Delayed Th Masters

Danny Willett roars back with stellar start at weather delayed 88th Masters

Former champion Danny Willett enjoyed a superb start when the 88th Masters belatedly got under way on Thursday.

Making his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery in September, Willett recorded the first birdie of the week on the opening hole and added another from close range on the third.

That took the 36-year-old from Sheffield to the top of the early leaderboard on two under par, a shot ahead of a four-strong group which included Bryson DeChambeau and Erik van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen had been due to hit the opening tee shot at 8am local time (13h00BST) but rain was already falling when tournament officials announced at 5am that play would not get under way on time.

Play was initially delayed by at least an hour and, although most of the worst thunderstorms looked to have skirted the area, it was subsequently announced that play would start at 1030 local time (15h30GMT).

Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson kicked off proceedings 20 minutes earlier by each hitting a tee shot on the first hole before retiring to the clubhouse.

The delay meant the first round would not be completed on schedule, with the last group of Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood not teeing off until 1630 local time.

Fleetwood, who had been drawn in the final group in round one for the second successive year, had taken on weather monitoring duties in the absence of long-time caddie Ian Finnis, who is recovering from illness back in England.

"I generally wake up and take the weather for what it is, just go out and play with the conditions we get, but I’ve heard the forecast is pretty bad," Fleetwood said.

"The conditions are going to play a part in how the golf course plays and what happens there, so we’ll see."

Pre-tournament favourite Scottie Scheffler will partner Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele in the first two rounds, with the star trio now due to tee off at 1312 local time (18h12BST).

Defending champion Jon Rahm gets his attempt to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo in winning back-to-back Masters titles under way in the preceding group alongside Matt Fitzpatrick and Nick Dunlap.

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