Terrible Tiger struggles at Masters
Tiger Woods followed his first victory in 28 months with some of the
worst tee shots of his career, struggling to a level-par 72 after the
opening round of the 76th Masters on Thursday.
Snap-hooking drives into the pine trees at Augusta National with
alarming regularity, Woods stunningly salvaged pars on the first two
holes only to suffer a bogey-bogey finish to plunge off the leaderboard.
"I hit some of the worst golf shots I have ever hit out there," Woods
said. "I just grinded my way around the course, stayed patient, whatever
it took. I just wanted to keep going out there." The 14-time major
champion, chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus,
seeks a fifth Masters title and 73rd US PGA crown in his first event
since ending a win drought that started with his infamous sex scandal.
"I could have probably maybe got one, maybe two more (shots) out of
that but that was about it," Woods said. "I squeezed a lot out of that
round. Didn't hit it very good at all." But Woods took heart from the
fact no rival pulled too far ahead of the pack.
"This course is playing too difficult to go super-low on," Woods
said. "No one was tearing it up." Woods captured the Arnold Palmer
Invitational last month at Bay Hill and seemed to signal a return to
form, but admitted that old mistakes were creeping back into his swing
during the round.
"Old (swing) patterns. Just old patterns," Woods said. "Some of my
old stuff from a few years ago. I have had to work through it and today
it popped up. Now I'm struggling with it all the way around with all the
clubs." Woods, who has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and
has not won the Masters since 2005, could match Nicklaus for second on
the US PGA all-time win list at 73, nine shy of the record 82 won by Sam
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, a playing partner of Woods, fired a 69
to share to clubhouse lead and said he thought Woods played well other
than off the tee, where he was among the day's worst players at finding
"He had trouble from the tees," Jimenez said. "If you miss fairway
you don't have a chance. The rest he was fine. He was playing very well.
If you are not well off the tee, you are not able to find your place
here." Woods said he was "Feeling ready," in a two-word Twitter posting
only hours before his round began, but he appeared anything but
His inaugural shot hooked left off the first tee, smacked a pine tree
and rolled halfway back down the hillside toward the players, coming to
rest in the pine needles.
Woods blasted out of the mess 10 yards short of the green, pitched to
eight feet and sank the par putt.
Another narrow escape followed.
Woods sent his tee shot at the par-5 second even more left, deep into
a set of bushes near a pedestrian path. He took a penalty and dropped
near a tree, then smashed a shot through small tree branches and leaves
that landed short of the green.
Woods, ranked seventh in the world, went up and down from there for
another clutch par save even as spectators still scrambled through the
bushes seeking a souvenir. AFP