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Bryson DeChambeau showing Augusta National more respect after taking Masters lead

Bryson DeChambeau chips to the green on the seventh hole during the first round.
Bryson DeChambeau chips to the green on the seventh hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday. (Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Bryson DeChambeau created some headaches for himself a few years ago when he suggested Augusta National wasn’t as tough as its billing.

He said the par-72 course was “a par-67 for me” because he could reach all the par-5 holes in two shots. He was mercilessly mocked for the comment, especially after he pulled out of that Masters because of vertigo.

An older, wiser DeChambeau was far more respectful of the storied course Thursday after an opening-round 65 put him atop the leaderboard for the opening round.

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He said he has learned “a lot of patience, especially out here on this golf course where you feel it’s gettable, you see it’s right in front of you, but it’s just tricky out here. It can be super tricky.”

Even in inclement weather that delayed the start of the tournament 2½ hours, DeChambeau deftly navigated his way through his round, with birdies on the first three holes and another stretch of five birdies in six holes.

It was his best performance in 25 career rounds at the Masters and the first time here he has been alone in the lead at the end of any given day.

Scottie Scheffler, ranked No. 1 in the world, is one shot behind him after the first round.

DeChambeau said he’s a more patient player than in years past.

“It’s more just getting older,” he said. “I’m 30 now, and I’m not old, I still feel like I’m a youngster. But it’s definitely taken time to get comfortable and getting to a place where, you know what, no matter what happens today I’m OK.”

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He expressed some regret, too, about the 67 comment.

“I have a level of respect for this golf course that’s a little bit different than a couple years ago,” he said. “And clearly today was a great test of golf, and I was able to conquer a very difficult golf course today.

“Regarding the 67 comment, you know, you mess up. I’m not a perfect person. Everybody messes up. You learn from your mistakes, and that was definitely one.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.