Haas leads Masters; Mickelson slumps
U.S. golfer Bill Haas watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Thursday. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)
Scott, bidding to become only the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters, missed only four fairways but failed to make the most of his birdie opportunities on the greens as he returned a 69 to match his effort at the same stage last year.
Rory McIlroy, the 12-1 pre-tournament favorite along with Australian Scott, launched his campaign with a 71.
The 31-year-old Haas hit the front after bagging three birdies on each nine, including a six-footer at the last hole that gave him his first three at the 18th at the 17th career attempt.
"Birdying 18 was a huge bonus," the 2011 FedExCup winner said at the opening major championship of the year. "I made some nice putts today, a couple of 20-footers, and that can certainly make a difference.
Haas, the son of former U.S. Ryder Cup player Jay senior, refused to get too carried away with his performance.
"I can't expect too much. You've just got to go out there and keep playing golf, try to hit that fairway on number one tomorrow."
U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (76), 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson (78), WGC-Match Play champion Jason Day (75) and U.S. PGA winner Jason Dufner (80) also struggled.