Tiger Woods stays close to Masters lead with first-round 70

Tiger Woods stays close to Masters lead with first-round 70

Opening score could be a magic number for the four-time champion

Reid Spencer Editor & Publisher
image (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Tiger Woods acknowledges the Masters patrons after sinking a short birdie putt on the ninth hole at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods’ opening round at the 83rd Masters wasn’t as good as it could have been, but it certainly provided a good omen.

Despite missing a handful of short putts on Augusta National’s slick greens, Woods shot 2-under-par 70 and walked off the course one shot off the lead shared by playing companion Jon Rahm, little-known South African Justin Harding and former Masters winner Adam Scott.

Woods birdied the par-5 second hole with an up-and-down from the right-hand greenside bunker. He added a birdie at the ninth after an errant drive, sticking his approach to 3 feet. After a center-cut drive on the par-5 13th, Woods two-putted for birdie from the back left of the green, and on the 14th—after driving into the trees—he drained a quick, hard-breaking snake of a putt for birdie.

Those four birdies offset missed 5-footers for par on the fifth and 17th holes. Woods also had an excellent chance for birdies at the sixth and eighth but missed short tries on those greens, too.

But the opening 70 represented a significant number for Woods, who shot that same first-round score in the first three of his four Masters victories. The exception was 2005, Woods’ most recent title, when he opened with a 2-over 74 and rallied to beat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.

“I played well today,” Woods said. “I thought I hit a lot of good shots. If I missed it, I missed it in the correct spots, which was always key, and I had some simpler up-and-downs because of it.

“I missed a few, for sure,” Woods said of his putting. “Misread a couple of them and hit one bad one there at six, but, other than that, it was a good, solid day.”

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