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(Andrew Redington/2011 Getty Images)
(Andrew Redington/2011 Getty Images)

Seven in the Morning: Masters edition

Young Masters Add to ...

It might be just me, but this is already shaping up to be a fantastic tournament.

The first day of The Masters can so often be "who was that again?" day. The best of the field know that it's a four-day marathon and often are kind of content to ease into things. It's not that often your first round leader is someone noteable.

In that respect the opening round was perfect. Of the major story lines in the buildup -- Tiger, Phil, the internationals and the youth movement -- three of them made themselves heard, and Woods, with an opening 71, remains in the picture.

Looking forward to the next 18, but here's seven to get you started.

1. As you might expect, in the UK they were quite happy to see Rory McIlroy on top:

The kid is special, and I certainly enjoyed the story about playing football -- US football -- on the street the night before the tournament and getting told off by the neighbours, but I'm not sure I'm ready to hand the future of the golf, let alone the tournament, to the guy based on one round. But they feel otherwise back 'ome: Dispense with guesswork and put away the crystal ball because every once in a while the future seems clear. The opening round of the 2011 Masters was one of those rare occasions: a beautiful day, a wonderful course, a pair of gifted young golfers.

Rory McIlroy, the 21-year-old prodigy from Holywood, Northern Ireland, was first to declare his talent with a Hollywood, California, performance at Augusta National, taking a mere 65 strokes to get round Alister MacKenzie's classic layout. It was a brilliant effort and it was unmatched until the last group of the day arrived at the 18th green and Alvaro Quirós rolled in a five-foot putt for a 65 of his own.

The 28-year-old Spaniard wore a grin as broad as an Augusta fairway. Leading the Masters does that for golfers, as does performing at such a peak on a stage such as this. In McIlroy's case there was the bonus of knowing there could be better to come.

Quirós's round was great but it had flaws - a few loose shots and a solitary bogey. The Irishman's effort, on the other hand, was one for the ages. It might also have been even better.

2. Did McIlroy leave a major championship record on the table?

He already has a share of the low-round for a major thanks to his opening round 63 at the British Open last summer, but as good as he played yesterday he might have left a few out there, which is a scary thought, this from The Devil's Ball, where they have very high standards: A fancy pick by some to contend in just his third Masters, McIlroy fired a 7-under 65, and with most we'd be gushing about the round, but with Rory, the only thing I could think when he tapped in for par on 18 was how low the round could have been. Just a few months ago, at St. Andrews, McIlroy stuck his second shot on the 17th hole in the first round of the British Open to just a couple of feet, but a miss there forced the Northern Irishman to "settle" for a 63, tying the lowest round in major championship history.

[His ability to go this low in majors just shows why people have talked about his potential since he was barely a teenager. On Thursday, McIlroy had short birdie putts on 10, 16 and 18 that could have gone in, and that doesn't even include his three-putt on 13. No, you can never be disappointed about a round like 65 at Augusta National, that would be silly, but Rory hit the ball so well in the opening round that a 61 or 62 was very much in the picture.

3. Alvaro Quiros can take it deep:

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