After a tedious journey which began at 8am, our hard-fought match that afternoon resulted in a 1-1 draw.

 » 1 Charley Hoffman Defending champion Danny Willett and Rory McIlroy both produced battling performances on a highly eventful first day of the Masters, but still found themselves well adrift of inspired leader Charley Hoffman. Hoffman defied swirling winds which gusted up to 35mph at Augusta National to card nine birdies and two bogeys in a stunning 65, 10 shots better than the field average.

That gave the Las Vegas-based 40-year-old the largest first-round lead in the Masters since 1955, with compatriot William McGirt his nearest challenger four shots back on three under. Lee Westwood, who finished runner-up to Willett last year, led a strong European challenge on two under after five birdies in a row from the 13th in his 70, with compatriots Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose all one under.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia also finished one under, with McIlroy, Soren Kjeldsen, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey and Shane Lowry on level par. World number one Dustin Johnson withdrew just moments before he was due to tee off, the US Open champion failing to recover from a back injury suffered in a fall at his rented house on Wednesday.

McIlroy had been three over with six holes remaining but birdied the 13th, 15th and 16th, while Willett recovered from being three over after two holes, aided by an eagle on the 13th. “When I was stood on the third tee, if someone had said I would shoot 73 I would have ripped their hand off, walked up the hill and gone inside and had a cup of tea,” Willett said. “It was a less than ideal start, not what I had envisaged the last 12 months starting out my defence, but I fought back really well, dug my heels in and hit some really good golf shots.” Fitzpatrick was three under par when he reached the 18th tee, but was distracted by spectators leaning over the ropes to get a better view and pulled his drive into the trees. “I just didn’t really feel comfortable over the tee shot,” said Fitzpatrick, whose drive travelled just 166 yards. “My low one’s lower than everyone else’s, so I can actually kill someone at head high. I should have backed off it and got everyone to move.” A three-putt from long range compounded the error and resulted in a double-bogey six, but the 22-year-old still outscored playing partner Jordan Spieth by four shots.

Spieth held a five-shot lead with nine holes to play 12 months ago, only to follow dropped shots on the 10th and 11th with a seven on the par-three 12th after hitting two balls into Rae’s Creek. And although the 23-year-old managed a solid par on the same hole on Thursday, he ran up a quadruple-bogey nine on the 15th after spinning his approach off the green into the water.

Pieters had threatened to set a daunting target when he raced to the turn in 32 and also birdied the 10th to reach five under par. However, the 25-year-old Belgian – who won a record four points from his five matches in Europe’s defeat at Hazeltine – then bogeyed the 11th and double-bogeyed the 12th after finding water off the tee.

Hoffman finished ninth in the Masters in 2015 after opening rounds of 67 and 68 meant he played in the final group with Spieth on day three. “I’m going to feed off that the rest of the week,” he said. “Today you just sort of go with it. There wasn’t, I wouldn’t say, a ton of pressure today. You’re just trying to make ends meet really. “Obviously going to sleep on the lead at a major championship here at Augusta National is not going to be the easiest thing.

I look forward to it, and I look forward to the challenge the next three days. “I was a little bit lucky. I was able to make some longer putts, which you’re just trying to die it up there close to the hole, and they were able to go in.”  »  » 2 Luke Coulson is a professional footballer, currently playing in the National League for Ebbsfleet United, and an occasional writer for talkSPORT.

Here he writes about playing over the busy Christmas period… Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said recently that it is important to uphold the tradition of the English Christmas schedule but complained the fixture list does not protect the players. The Spanish tactical mastermind expanded by saying that footballers are artists that simply cannot play every two days and warned: ‘we’re going to end up killing the players!’ Personally, I agree with Pep.

  The Christmas break for many is a time of year spent celebrating with friends and family in the midst of a large supply of alcohol and a regrettable amount of food. However, the festive schedule to a footballer means one or two days off with a moderated diet, a limited alcohol intake and a bombardment of fixtures in cold conditions.  I have started in every game for Ebbsfleet over the Christmas period and the congested schedule takes its toll on your body and fatigue sets in.

Despite wanting to play your very best for the fans and for the club, it simply isn’t possible to perform to your maximum in every game during such a high volume of matches. 2 Our gruelling run of four games in eight days began on December 23 with a long trip from Kent to Lancashire to take on AFC Fylde.İbrahimoviç After a tedious journey which began at 8am, our hard-fought match that afternoon resulted in a 1-1 draw.

  Fortunately, as a reward for our efforts, we were given the maximum luxury of two days off to enjoy the festive period before returning to action against Bromley on Boxing Day.  As the soft sludge that we call snow fell on Christmas Eve, of course there were professional footballers around the country that enjoyed one too many beverages to celebrate. However, the majority, like myself, would have limited what they drank knowing the importance of the upcoming matches.

  It is why the extra roast potato, the box of Lindor chocolates or the mince pie has to be sacrificed on Christmas Day to make sure that we are fully prepared for the Boxing Day game.  Obviously it goes without saying that we all treated ourselves to a little chocolate, ice cream or some Christmas pudding. However, we simply have to limit ourselves on how much we indulge throughout the festive period.

  After a late three hour drive back to Ebbsfleet on Christmas Day and after our game two days previous, I definitely didn’t feel great heading into our Boxing Day fixture. Yet, despite my general fatigue and although I hit the bar twice, we won 2-1 to record our fifth home win on the bounce.  Some readers may believe that I have my violin out playing a sympathetic tune to my hard done by self and colleagues, and they would be right as the New Year schedule is even worse!

In celebration of the New Year, we had the gruelling task of playing two games in three days.  Our game on Saturday 30th at home against promotion favourites Dagenham and Redbridge was a difficult match which ended in a fair 1-1 draw.  The Sunday that followed, which is usually a day of rest, was spent at the gym, stretching, spinning on a bike and foam rolling, trying to make my legs feel slightly better.

  In the evening, while everyone else was getting ready for the New Year’s Eve parties or enjoying a glass of bubbly at home, I was sat in the bath with a stomach full of chicken and pasta. As with Christmas, it is another time of year that sacrifices have to be made.  On New Year’s Day, we travelled to Bromley in match shown live on BT Sport. Despite dominating the game, we were unfortunate to be losing 3-1 by half time and eventually lost 4-2 [highlights below].

Regardless of the fact that each player took every measure to recover and prepare for the game, fatigue set in and the 3G pitch took its toll.  The loss means we remain 10th in the National League table, four points off a play-off spot. Having lost only one game in our last seven fixtures over this ‘killer’ schedule, the sacrifices that we made over the festive period clearly helped. Let’s hope it will pay dividends by the end of the season, like it surely will for Pep’s Man City. «