Here's How Tiger Woods Shot In His First Round At The Masters

Woods, hero to bad-back sufferers and sport's big redemption tale, returned to the Augusta National club on a wave of unrealistic expectation.

Maybe Jordan Spieth should switch gloves more often.

Opening day at the Masters had a wide-open feel until Spieth hit his stride Thursday afternoon. 4 and 5. He settled into a rhythm after that, with five straight pars before beginning his trip around Amen Corner.

The 27-year-old then rattled in three successive birdies from the 15th, though, before undoing some of the good work by bogeying the 18th. It plopped down 5 feet away.

Sergio Garcia doesn't know where it went wrong.

Spieth credited iron shots as much as putts to his crucial back-nine birdie binge. With his ankle taped, the strapping 28-year-old put his embarrassing tumble behind him and made five birdies on his way to a four-under 68. He's led more than half his rounds here (9 of 17).

Ditto for Woods, except that he has some catching up to do. Last year, it was 10th-hardest. Woods opened with a birdie at the third hole but followed it with four bogeys.

Woods' compelling comeback bid isn't the only story in a Masters shaping up to be a classic. Out here, this golf course brings out a lot of feel in my game. They've got it right where they want it.

Spieth stumbled a bit at the 18th hole, where an errant tee shot led to a bogey. Even so, his 66 sent a strong message. But it was a attractive chip shot. "With the round he's posted, the quality of golfer he is, he's on some similar form".

Finau was running backwards in an enthusiastic celebration of a hole-in-one on the seventh when his left ankle buckled underneath him. "His record is spectacular around here". Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Adam Hadwin of Canada, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Haotong Li of China share fourth place after 69s in conditions that were cool and mostly calm. His first crack at the career slam was in 2015.

McIlroy has recorded four successive top-10 finishes since 2014, but on each occasion gone into the weekend well out of contention.

Only, likely, the ones who got off to a good start on Thursday.

"I played in a major championship again", he said. "I started pin-seeking after that", Spieth said. "And I'm right back in this tournament".

The cheers turned to gasps as Finau's ankle dislocated, sending him to the hospital for treatment and an MRI. "I had some opportunities to make and didn't do it". After a drop, he pitched just short of the green but holed the 15-footer for a bogey.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia's chances of retaining his Masters crown lay in tatters after taking 13 shots on the 15th hole during a catastrophic opening round.

"But unfortunately I flew it on the ideal spot for it to come back and then I kept hitting good shots with a sand-wedge and unfortunately, I don't know why, the ball just didn't stop".

"I knew left of the green I had room there, it was obviously a fantastic shot", Spieth said of the chip on ESPN after his round. Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are in the mix at minus-2. Caused by hitting five balls in the water with a wedge, the disaster left him having to settle for an opening 81, eight shots more than Woods. Like Woods and Johnson, he's going to have to play virtually flawless golf the rest of the way to close the gap and push for a win. He was tied for 29th.

Spieth rolled in a 14-foot eagle at the eighth, and two-putted from 40-feet for a birdie at 13.

In one sense, he was happy to be playing. It was uplifting for the all-time great whose pain was so bad here past year he did not play and could barely sit through the Champions Dinner. He also started the 2016 Masters with a 66, and fired a first-round 64 en route to his win in 2015.

  • Julie Sanders