Holmes boosts Masters chances

JB Holmes gave his chances of securing a place at the Masters a boost by taking a share of the lead at Bay Hill.

JB Holmes gave his chances of securing a place at the Masters a boost by taking a share of the lead after the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Holmes needs a top-four finish in Florida if he is to have any chance of securing himself a place inside the world’s top 50 and an invite to the first major of the year and he got off to the best possible start with a six-under-par round of 66.
The 27-year-old produced birdies at the fifth, sixth and ninth to go out in 33, before picking up another shot at the 10th and an eagle at the par-five 12th as he completed a flawless round.
He is joined at the top of the leaderboard by fellow American Davis Love III, who shot seven birdies and an eagle on the way to his 66.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Canada’s Mike Weir head the chasing pack on five under with both players registering seven birdies.
Next up is a group of four players at four under including Ernie Els and Kevin Streelman, Kevin Na and Robert Allenby.
While Holmes was setting the pace it was not proving to be such a promising opening day for some other players in need of results if they are to head down Magnolia Drive in a couple of weeks’ time.
England’s Justin Rose lies three over par after double bogeying at the 13th, with the 29-year-old requiring a top-four finish to have any chance to reaching the top 50.
Canada’s Stephen Ames, who needs a top-five placing, is one over after his opening 18 holes while Bubba Watson is four over as he goes in search of a top-two finish.
Korea’s KJ Choi, who needs to finish in the top 55 to keep his Masters hopes alive, is tied for 31st at one under.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell is the top British contender also at one under par while European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie is at level par with fellow Scotsman Martin Laird back on two over.
Colombia’s Camilo Villegas had a disastrous opening day. The 28-year-old was victorious at the Honda Classic earlier this month but he was nowhere near that standard as he ended the day at five over par.