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Rookies debut in style on Augusta National

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm •  Published: April 10, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Jonas Blixt played all kinds of courses in golf's minor leagues before graduating to the PGA Tour and quickly grabbing two wins.

Even he wasn't quite prepared for what Augusta National offered in his Masters debut.

"Every single shot can be the best shot of your life and every single shot can be the worst shot of your life," Blixt said. "You really have to stay focused."

Blixt did that well enough Thursday to shoot a 2-under 70, matching the best score among rookies as the Class of '14 debuted to generally favorable reviews on golf's grandest stage. Joining him there was 35-year-old Jimmy Walker, a three-time winner this season who ran off four straight birdies on the back nine, and Kevin Stadler, son of former winner Craig Stadler.

Blixt did everything but stop to smell the azaleas as he took it all in with former champion Ben Crenshaw helping show the way.

"I just got a good feeling being on the grounds," the Swede said. "It's a soothing feeling."

Jordan Spieth felt much the same way in his first crack at a tournament many in golf believe he will be playing in for a long time. The 20-year-old, who played his way onto the PGA Tour and the President's Cup team last year, smiled as he approached his opening tee shot.

"I just soaked it in, it was really cool," Spieth said. "I was watching the ball, and from there the adrenaline came in."

Playing with Rory McIlroy and fellow first-timer Patrick Reed in the featured pairing of the morning, Spieth jumpstarted his round with a 30-foot putt for birdie on No. 5. He played Amen Corner in 1 under for an opening 71 that put him three shots off the pace set by Bill Haas.

Reed might have joined him there, but a bogey-bogey-bogey finish put him at 73.

"I felt they handled it really well," said McIlroy, who had a 71 of his own. "They both had it under par, Jordan finished under par. Patrick didn't have a good finish, but I felt like they played well."

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