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Donald left to rue 'dumb mistake'

ESPN staff
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Luke Donald's mistake saw him slump to an opening-round 79 © AP
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Luke Donald was left to rue a "pretty dumb mistake" which may have cost the Englishman a chance at making halfway cut at the Masters.

Donald opened with a 7-over 79 to leave himself rock bottom of a 14-strong contingency representing the United Kingdom at Augusta.

His round included a two-stroke penalty for touching the sand with his club after failing to escape from a greenside bunker at the par-4 ninth.

UK Watch: Round 1

Rory McIlroy is in the hunt, but will be disappointed with a bogey at 18 © Getty Images
  • -1 Rory McIlroy (NI), Stephen Gallacher (Sco)
  • Ev Graeme McDowell (NI)
  • +1 Jamie Donaldson (Wal), Lee Westwood (Eng)
  • +2 Darren Clarke (NI)
  • +4 Ian Poulter (Eng), Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng), Sandy Lyle (Sco), Garrick Porteous (Eng), Justin Rose (Eng)
  • +5 Ian Woosnam (Wal)
  • +6 David Lynn (Eng)
  • +7 Luke Donald (Eng)

"Pretty dumb mistake," he wrote on Twitter.

Donald, who finished fourth at Augusta in 2011, added: "I can accept the odd poor shot, but making a mistake like that is pretty frustrating and so unlike me.

"Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. Brush it off and try and make a bunch of birdies [on Friday]."

David Lynn is also facing an early flight home having slumped to a 78. Birdies at three and 15 were erased by nine bogeys - including a run of four in a row from the 10th.

Ian Poulter endured a similarly frustrating round. After a decent start with a birdie at the second, Poulter dropped shots at four, eight, 10, 13 and 18 to finish at 4-over par.

But like Donald, he is positive going into the second round. He tweeted: "Can I start to slowly get myself back into this tournament? Absolutely.

"I only have to take one shot off the leader for each nine holes from here."

Poulter is joined in a tie for 67th by fellow Englishman Justin Rose, Garrick Porteous and Matt Fitzpatrick, as well as Scotland's 1988 champion Sandy Lyle, who was 3-under par at the turn before slumping on the back-nine.

Amateurs Fitzpatrick, 19, and 24-year-old Porteous will be happy with their showings having booked their spots at Augusta by winning the US and British Amateur Championships respectively.

"It's not easy out there and hopefully it will be a bit better [in the second round] and I can make a few shots back and make the cut," Fitzpatrick said.

Porteous added: "It's awesome, every little kid growing up playing golf wants to play at the Masters, watching on TV. It's a special occasion and I have my family out here to enjoy it with me."

Top of the pile in the race to be the UK's first Masters champion since Sir Nick Faldo in 1996 are Rory McIlroy and Stephen Gallacher, who both completed the first round with a 1-under 71.

"I feel good," McIlroy said. "Experience counts for so much on this golf course. I put the ball in the right places for uphill putts or easy two putts, because if you put the ball in the wrong place you're going to struggle."

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Gallacher is one of a record 24 debutants at this year's Masters - and had previously turned down opportunities to play Augusta, saying he wanted to earn his right to grace the hallowed Georgia turf.

"I'd say one-under was just," Gallacher, who birdied the second, sixth, ninth and 15th, said. "It would have been a bit harsh if I'd had to settle for level-par. "It's a good start to the week and hopefully I can build on it. I hit one poor shot by going through the fairway at the 10th. Apart from that, I never really hit a poor shot and it was a solid round.

"I was on both the eighth and 13th in two and, while I didn't make birdies at either, it was down to having tricky putts."

Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood are also firmly in the hunt. McDowell, the 2010 US Open champion, is tied for 20th place following an even-par 72, while Donaldson and Westwood - a runner-up here in 2010 - are 1-over par.

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