AUGUSTA, Ga. - Jay Haas continues to defy his age. Eligible for the Champions Tour in December when he turned 50, Haas has put senior golf on hold. And for good reason.
Ranked 22nd in the world, Haas tied for sixth two weeks ago at the Players Championship and shot 69 on Thursday during the first round of the Masters to trail leader Justin Rose by two strokes.
To put things in perspective: Rose is 23, the same age as Haas' son, Jay Jr., who is caddying for him.
"I guess I'm trying not to think that I'm 50 and shouldn't be doing this," said Haas, who is playing in his 21st Masters. "I don't know that there's a number that all of a sudden we decide we can't play anymore."
GOOD SHAPE: A year ago, Ernie Els finished tied for sixth, battling back after an opening-round 79. He put himself in much better position this time. Els was 2 under par with one hole remaining in his first round.
"I'm happy with the way I played," Els said. "I kind of hung in there. The first round is always an important round. You can shoot yourself out quickly."
Els recovered from disaster at the par-5 13th, where his second shot came up short of the green but did not go in the water. He was able to chip on and make par.
"I was a little lucky there," Els said. "I still had an awkward stance. At least the ball was dry."
COMING UP ACES: Chris DiMarco's hole-in-one at the sixth was just the fourth at the 180-yard par-3 in Masters history and the first since Charles Coody in 1972.
DiMarco hit 5-iron and the hole was playing 198 yards with slight rain falling.
"It's probably the hardest hole position when the pin is on top," DiMarco said. "It just makes you have to go at the hole. It makes you just hit it there, and I hit one of those shots that was just perfect. You could see it in the air, it was the right distance, and it landed just a couple of feet short and barely trickled in. It was one of my best hole-in-ones I've ever made, I can promise you that."
DiMarco said it was his fourth ace in competition. It was the 15th in the Masters history and the first since Raymond Floyd made an ace at the 16th in 1996.
GROWLING BEAR: Jack Nicklaus was none too pleased that he bogeyed the 17th hole, the last one he completed before play was suspended. Still, his 2-over score is very respectable. Nicklaus, 64, is playing in his 44th Masters.
"I played very well, but I didn't get much in the hole," Nicklaus said. "The only birdie I made was the first hole. I hit the first nine greens (in regulation), missed 10 through 12, then hit the rest of them. To be 2 over at this point is disappointing."
WATER WOES: Shigeki Maruyama made 8 at the par-3 12th despite hitting into the water just once. After taking a drop, he hit his third into the back bunker and needed three shots to get out. He two-putted for 8. Vijay Singh hit two balls in the water at the par-5 15th - one in front of the green, one over. After hitting his second shot in the front pond, he hit his fourth shot over the green into the water. From there he dropped, chipped on and two-putted for 8.
LAST TIME: Barring a weather delay, Arnold Palmer makes his last competitive Masters appearance today. He shot 84 in the first round.
"It was fun," said Palmer, who is competing in his 50th consecutive Masters. "Feeling that adrenaline flowing like I have for many years. I would have loved to have made the cut. And I may do it yet ... I'll have to quit after nine."
AROUND AUGUSTA: Rose should not feel too secure with his first-round lead. The last time a first-round leader won the tournament was 1984, when Ben Crenshaw won. ... Fred Couples, who shot 73, is trying to make his 20th consecutive cut at the Masters. ... Ben Curtis' eagle at the seventh hole was the eighth in Masters history, the last coming from Els last year during the third round. ... Brandt Snedeker, the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, birdied all three holes at Amen Corner, the first amateur to do so since Jodie Mudd in the third round in 1982. Snedeker shot 73. ... Crenshaw was 3 under through 10 holes but played the last seven holes in 5 over par, including double bogey at the 18th. Crenshaw, who won the Masters in 1995, has missed the cut in seven of eight tries.