American Haas, whose great uncle Bob Goalby landed the coveted
green jacket in 1968, recovered from a bogey five at the opening
hole to set the pace on four-under 68.
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.
Bubba Watson shared second place on 69 along with Scott and the
player the American left-hander defeated in a playoff here in 2012,
South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Rory McIlroy, the 12-1 pre-tournament favorite along with Australian
Scott, launched his campaign with a 71.
World number one Tiger Woods may be missing from this year's lineup
following back surgery but there was no shortage of thrills on a
sun-kissed day at Augusta National.
The 31-year-old Haas hit the front after bagging three birdies on
each nine, including a six-footer at the last that gave him his
first three at the 18th at the 17th career attempt.
The pin at the final hole was typical of the tricky flag positions
on day one, tucked in on the corner of the putting surface.
"Birdying 18 was a huge bonus," the 2011 FedExCup winner told
reporters 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.
"Today there was a bunch of tough pins and I think sometimes you've
just got to say ... you either go at it or you're going to have 50
feet left because it's going to roll on the slopes."
Haas, the son of former U.S. Ryder Cup player Jay senior, refused to
get too carried away with his performance.
"I was leading last week after the first round and finished 37th,"
he said of the Houston Open, "so I know there's tons of golf left.
"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."
Haas was relieved the decision to jettison his brother Jay junior as
caddie in favor of the more experienced Scott Gneiser did not
rebound on him.
"My brother has been on the bag for a few years and I think I needed
a change," said the tournament leader. "I certainly confide in Scott
just like I would have with my brother.
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"Scott has been under the gun a bunch of times with David Toms and
played in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. He's seen a lot more
pressure-packed situations than most caddies so I certainly feel
comfortable with that out there."
Scott felt less than comfortable with the shortest club in the bag,
as evidenced by his three-putts for par on the long 13th and 15th.
The world number two was also one of several victims of the
notorious Amen Corner stretch — holes 11, 12 and 13.
"At the 12th I received the most incredible ovation I've ever had
but I struck my worst shot of the day," said Scott after he dumped
his nine-iron into Rae's Creek and took a double-bogey five.
"It was the only weak shot I hit. I think the par-fives are a big
key for me here, I didn't take advantage of them and shot 69 so
that's a good indication of the quality of my play today."
Argentina's Angel Cabrera, the player beaten by Scott in a playoff
last year, had a day to forget as he plunged to a 78 that contained
a triple-bogey seven at the 11th.
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.
Former world number one Luke Donald was unable to turn around his
recent poor form, slumping to a 79 highlighted by a quadruple-bogey
eight at the ninth that featured a two-shot penalty for grounding
his club in a bunker.
Triple Masters winner Phil Mickelson veered from the sublime to the
ridiculous as he ballooned to a 76, matching his previous worst
opening round at the championship in 1997 and 2007.
The left-handed American suffered two sevens in his round but also
curled in a snaking 60-foot putt for an unlikely birdie three at the
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)
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