AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tony Finau came into this year’s Masters brimming with confidence and he played well for the most part in Thursday’s opening round at Augusta National. A couple of miscues and unfortunate bounces, however, kept him from posting a low score among the leaders.

The Salt Lake native, who has three top-10s to his credit in five years playing at the Masters, fired a 3-under-par 69 and stands tied for 13th place heading into Friday’s second round, when he’ll tee off at 8:24 a.m. MDT.

“I played really nicely on the back. You have to be patient here and I think I did a good job of that today.” — Tony Finau on opening round

Meanwhile, Mike Weir, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his 2003 Masters win, opened with a solid round of even-par golf, putting himself in position to make the cut for only the third time since 2010. Weir is tied for 37th entering Friday’s second round; he’ll tee off at 9:36 a.m. MDT.

Finau overcame a shaky start to pull himself into contention after 18 holes.

“There were a couple of shots I’d like to have back, but I thought I hung in there nicely,” he said. “We’re still right there, four strokes off the lead.” 

Finau hit his drive into the fairway bunker at No. 1 and after his approach shot spun back off the green, he made bogey after hitting over the green with his third shot. Then he pulled his second shot into a bunker at the par-5 second hole and could only manage par.

However, he came back with birdies holes 3, 5 and 6 and had some momentum going when he hit his approach shot at No. 7 within 10 feet of the hole, only to see it spin back off the green 30 feet away. Instead of a possible birdie he settled for bogey.

“That was one I’d like to have back,” he said. “I had a sand wedge in, and pushed it a little bit, but didn’t hit it hard enough. I got a little cute there, but it bit me in the butt. That’s this golf course.”  

At the par-5 eighth, Finau actually caught a break after pulling his drive into the woods, where he was able to chip out to the fairway and save par. At No. 9, he again hit close to the hole, only to once again see his ball spin back to 40 feet below the hole. 

On the back nine, Finau made birdies on the two par-5s — No. 13 and No. 15 — the latter when he left a 25-foot eagle putt just short. He hit a beautiful shot at the par-3 16th to within 4 feet, but missed his putt, sliding it by the right side.

“I played really nicely on the back, he said. “You have to be patient here and I think I did a good job of that today,” he said. 

Weir, who has made his home in Utah (Sandy) ever since graduating from BYU in the early 1990s, played in the opening group of the day, right after Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson hit ceremonial opening drives. He was playing in one of only two twosomes on the day and it turned out to be a onesome when his playing partner Kevin Na withdrew from the tournament because of illness after going 4-over through nine holes.

Weir was 1-under at the time and proceeded to bogey the next two holes before coming back with birdies on holes 12 and 15. He had another bogey at No. 16.

Weir chuckled when it was pointed out he was the leader in the clubhouse since he was in the first group of the day. 

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“I played like a leader today — 72’s a nice score, but it could have been a really good score today,” he said. “I played really well. I drove it really well and made some nice putts to get the round going early. Overall it was a nice round.”

Weir’s best shot of the day came at the iconic No. 12 par-3, where his 8-iron ended up 4 feet from the pin and he made the putt for birdie. His birdie at the par-5 15th hole came when he nearly jarred his wedge from 91 yards and had a short birdie putt. However, he fell back to par with a bogey at the par-3 16th when he hit it a mile away and three-putted for bogey.

Weir said it was a challenge playing by himself for the last nine holes, something he’s rarely done in his career.

“I told my caddie, I didn’t want to overthink and slow down too much,” he said. “You don’t want to take too much time. I got a little out of sorts on 10 and 11 and settled back down. I just had to get into the routine. I didn’t want to play super slow, just to take my time and make good decisions.”

Weir isn’t expecting to fly solo Friday, as tournament officials will either rearrange the pairings or assign a marker to play with him. 

Both Finau and Weir will be hoping to avoid a rainstorm that is expected to move in to Augusta early to mid-afternoon on Friday. Rain is also forecast for most of the day Saturday before clearing Sunday morning.

Former BYU golfer Mike Weir chips to the green on the second hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday, April 6, 2023, in Augusta, Ga. The former Masters champ posted a solid even-par 72 on Thursday. | Matt Slocum, Associated Press