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Westwood takes one-stroke lead, nine within 2 shots

AUGUSTA -- A mostly sunny day limited the impact of overnight rains at Augusta and by day's end the scores finally started to dip.

Across a busy leaderboard at the Masters, with nine players within two strokes of the lead, only one, Paul Lawrie at 3-under par, began before 10:30 a.m. and Lawrie played his last six holes 4-under with eagles on the par 5s 13 and 15. On 15, he chipped in from about 45 feet.

"Not many times you have two eagles in nine holes," Lawrie said. "So, that was nice."

When Lawrie finished, Henrik Stenson had taken the lead at 6-under par after 10, but the Swede bogied 14 and took an 8 on the par 4 18th to finish 1-under and four strokes behind Day 1 leader Lee Westwood.

"With the start I had ... I was hoping to be able to keep it together on the back nine and I did everything except 18," Stenson said. "It's disappointing."

Westwood, who didn't tee off until nearly 1 p.m., played the front nine 4-under with four consecutive birdies. He finished in a little bit of drizzle but came in with a 5-under 67. The 67 ties his tournament best turned in during the first day of the 2010 Masters. That year, Westwood led going into Sunday before finishing second to Phil Mickelson.

"There was no weakness out there today in my game," Westwood said. "I hit it close, hit a lot of fairways and rolled in some nice putts."

Soft greens from the rain set the course up for low scores, but the pins were tucked away on many of the holes in an attempt to prevent a crush of low numbers.

"I thought there were some tough flags out there," Westwood said.

Finishing a stroke back of Westwood at 4-under were 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and 34-year-old Peter Hanson from Sweden.

Oosthuizen, who teed off about a quarter of noon, played 3-under on the back despite a bogey 6 on the par 5 14th.

"It was a little bit bumpy at the beginning," the 29-year-old Oosthuizen said. "I knew there were going to be bogeys out there. The course is playing really tough, tough pins for a first round I felt."

This is Oosthuizen's fourth Masters and he failed to make the cut in the first three. The South African is good friends with last year's Master's champion Charl Schwartzel and said he mostly learned from watching his friend under the pressure.

"The main thing was that he put himself in a position to win," Oosthuizen said.

And that's where Oosthuizen now finds himself. His best first-round position in the first three Masters? Fifty-first.

"It's always nice to see your name on any leaderboard, but it makes it a little bit sweeter over here," he said.

Hanson finds his name near the top of the leaderboard in just his second Masters appearance and he did it in a round where he played with three-time Masters winner Mickelson and five-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan, who won last week's Shell Houston Open. Hanson has four career victories on the European Tour and has never won a PGA Tour event.

"When you get the crowd behind you, you know it is going to be a very special day out there," Hanson said. "Playing at this venue is always very special, but in company like that, I think it really helped me today to stay focused and stay where I want to be."

Which is in contention.

Included in the six two back at 3-under are Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari, Ben Crane, Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson.

Rory McIlroy finished 1-under, Tiger Woods stood pat at even par and Mickelson finished 2-over, needing a birdie on 18 help stay within seven strokes of the lead.