Tiger Woods's Eventful Opening Round at the Masters

Jo Caldwell
April 7, 2018

Stood on the edge of the pond on the 16th hole, the world number four delighted onlookers by skimming his ball across the water and on to the green in practice at Augusta.

There was more applause when he strolled to the 18th green, though most of the patrons stayed in their fold-out seats. The increase from 2006 to 2016 is just a little more than the entire amount they competed for when Tiger turned professional.

Considering the buildup that accompanied his first competitive round at Augusta National since 2015, it might've seemed like a bit of a letdown.

"You look at it and not anyone is really getting away", McIlroy said.

"I'll always have demons out here, but I'll always have a tremendous amount of confidence", Spieth said.

In his first Masters, Day tied for second, in 2011 finishing 12-under.

Tiger Woods attracted most of the attention.

The cheers could be heard throughout the course.

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"I don't think I would have had the career I've had so far if it wasn't for that day". Even the azaleas, you feel, are sucking in the sense of expectancy. Honestly, under the bright sun and blue sky, the resourcefulness of the man dressed in black was a hell of a thing to see. "My surgeon says to take it all day", Woods said.

His day didn't finish as he would have hoped - he played a nine-hole stretch at 8-over-par - but he still did his hometown proud.

After all he's been through - the surgeries, the personal troubles, the lingering doubts that he'd ever be able to compete again for major championships - just being out on the course, once again at the center of the golf universe, made him feel like a victor.

Spain's Sergio Garcia, who ended almost two decades of major futility with his victory here a year ago, faces an uphill battle to retain the title - a feat only Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods have accomplished.

"A 73 is fine", Woods said.

Woods has been absolutely crushing golf courses of late, too.

"They have it right where they want it. And it did change because I gave myself chances to win majors after that".

He intends to be one of them. "It's just it was a really good start".

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He matched the highest single-hole score in Masters history.

It felt more like four bogeys. "You don't see that very often, especially when Tiger is not playing".

There was more trouble lurking around Amen Corner, where Woods was right off the tee at 11 and his shot from the trees hit a fan and dropped into the rough. If you start to chase it around here, that's when you start to make mistakes.

He managed to pull it together.

And he played great, opening with a 68 despite a short par putt that he missed on the 14th hole.

McIlroy is three shots behind Jordan Spieth, who made five consecutive birdies on the back nine to build a two-stroke lead over Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.

He was also feeling plenty of relief.

His second shot, with a six-iron from 205 yards, cleared the water but rolled back in, leaving Garcia to lament a game of inches.

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"It took me a while to get over it, but I knew if I looked at the big picture it would serve me well in the long run. There's a lot of holes to be played".

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