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PGA champion Keegan Bradley has most of his family on hand for his Masters debut. His aunt, LPGA great Pat Bradley, is in town, and he got to see his own nephew before he teed off Thursday. Not only did his mother, Kaye, caddie for him in the Par 3 contest Wednesday, she cooked his favorite dinner later that night.

“A special chicken that she makes and corn and rice,” he said, “so it felt like home.”

Every little bit helps at Augusta National, which is notoriously tough on rookies. Only three first-timers have won, and none since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. But Bradley looked quite comfortable among the Georgia pines.

After a messy double-bogey on No. 1, he didn’t drop another stroke until 18. He was back to par by the time he teed off on No. 5, holing out from the front right bunker on the par-3 fourth.

“That was one of the best shots I’ve ever hit,” Bradley said. “That was really fun to see it go in and hear that famous Augusta roar.”

At 1-under 71, he is four strokes behind leader Lee Westwood.

“Out here you’ve got to stay really patient, and I know that I’ve got a lot more holes to push,” Bradley said. “I stayed real patient, which I’m very proud of.”


MUD BALLS: If the school of hard knocks is closed, Stewart Cink has another place in mind for those Masters players who want to learn how to deal with mud on the ball.

“The school of bogeys,” Cink said.

An opening day that featured soft, scorable conditions at Augusta National came with a price: Sopped grounds that caused balls to plug, not roll, when they hit the fairway and occasionally collect clumps of mud. The whole idea of lift, clean and place at majors is more or less verboten, so the players must play them as they lie.

Very early in the round, it was clear this would be an issue. Adam Scott, playing in the sixth threesome of the day, had a huge clump of mud on his ball when it hit the green, about 40 feet short of the back, left pin location.

He wasn’t alone.

Lucas Glover shot 3-over 75 and said the whole day was a mud-fest.

“You pull a couple shots, start second-guessing yourself some more,” Glover said. “You hit a ball, land in the mud, and all of the sudden, it’s a brain buster.”

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