AUGUSTA, Ga.: Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia played just one group apart Thursday and were only 1 shot apart on the leaderboard at the Masters Tournament.
That wasn’t terribly confusing, though their shirts were.
Viewers around the country had to be doing double takes as the cameras switched between the two players as they battled for the lead in the late afternoon on the back nine. That’s because both were wearing the same garish shirt, color and all.
“Well, we are not wearing the same outfit because we want to,” Johnson said. “This is Adidas; they script our clothing this week. We are wearing the same outfit because they told us to.”
The shirts were partly striped and an acid shade of green. From a distance, it was hard to tell which player was which.
Whatever they looked like, the shirts seemed to work. Garcia shot a 66 to tie for the lead, and Johnson was a shot behind at 67.
Johnson was asked if he would like to wear something on Sunday that moderator Tom Nelson — an Augusta member — was wearing in the interview room. That, too, comes in green and is put over the shoulders of the Masters champion.
“I would love to,” Johnson said, laughing.
There’s a reason fans love Phil Mickelson. He usually goes the extra step to please them.
Mickelson was at it again Thursday after finishing his opening round of 71. After signing his scorecard in the clubhouse he came out to see about 30 fans lined up in a roped-off area hoping to get autographs fro him.
Mickelson asked if anyone had a Sharpie, then had caddie Jim Mackay fetch it from a woman in the crowd. He then took out a used glove and signed it for a little boy who was waiting with his father.
“You can’t sign outside the clubhouse but for him I’ll make an exception,” Mickelson said.
Those waiting applauded the move, then someone yelled that Mickelson should sign for the woman, too, for giving him the Sharpie.
He didn’t, and said it should serve as a lesson.
“Sometimes you can do something nice without anything in return,” Mickelson told them.
Spring means unpredictable weather in Georgia, and the forecast for Thursday was ominous with late afternoon thunderstorms expected. It held off, though, until just after the final groups were done and players had signed their scorecards. Rory McIlroy was just beginning his post-round interviews when thunder rumbled and the weather siren sounded and everyone was ordered off the course.
For McIlroy it was a chance to get some dinner early. For the Masters, it was the break the tournament might have needed to remain on schedule. The storms might still come, with a 50 percent chance of rain predicted for today. But all 93 players got their full rounds in Thursday despite the best efforts of Mother Nature.
Alan Dunbar would have been happy to break 80 in the first round after getting his first look at Augusta National this week. Unfortunately for the amateur from Northern Ireland, he couldn’t even do that. Dunbar made only one par on the front nine on his way to an 11-over 83 that was the worst score of the day.