Tiger Woods began his quest for a 15th major championship and fifth Masters green jacket with a 2-under par 70 at Augusta National, a score that could be a foreshadowing of things to come.
Four previous times Woods opened this event with the same score; three times he won the tournament.
Woods is four shots behind leaders Sergio Garcia and little-known Marc Leishman, but he did not seem fazed.
“It’s a good start,” Woods said. “Some years some guys shoot 65 starting out here. But right now I’m only four back and I’m right there.”
Still, Woods left some shots out there. The sharp putting that marked his three wins already this season was missing. And, on No. 15, after bombing a drive on the par 5, he missed the green with a mid-iron and a chance to putt for eagle. He ended up with a par.
“It was benign, especially starting out,” Woods said. “The wind picked up in the middle part of the round. Got a little swirly there at Amen Corner (the 11th, 12th and 13th holes), as usual. But overall, I think the biggest challenge today was just the speed of the greens. They weren’t quite there. They looked it, but just weren’t quite putting it.”
Woods hit 13-of-18 greens but needed 30 putts, a number well above his average during victories last month at Doral and Bay Hill.
When he won the Masters in 1997, 2001 and ’02, Woods opened each of those with a 70. He shot 74 in 2005, but prevailed in a playoff over Chris DiMarco.
Woods is playing in the Masters for the 19th time and only once has he broken 70 in the first round. That came in 2010, the year he made his season debut at the Masters and eventually tied for fourth.
Despite a solid start and just one bogey overall, Woods’ round had a disappointing air to it, especially given his recent play. A bogey at the 14th, followed by a disappointing par at the 15th, were the main reasons he failed to shoots in the 60s.