Tiger Woods fights back for opening 1-over 73 at Masters

Apr 5, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 4th hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods fights back for opening 1-over 73 at Masters

PGA Tour

Tiger Woods fights back for opening 1-over 73 at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods may’ve saved his round, and his Masters, with one putt at Amen Corner.

On the fringe at Augusta National’s par-3 12th and facing the prospect of a double bogey and a drop to 4 over, Woods proceeded to drain the 15-footer for a bogey. He then played 2 under the rest of the way to escape with a 1-over 73.

The 42-year-old played his first round in the Masters in three years Thursday, and it was not pretty. In fact, it could’ve gotten really ugly. But Woods kept fighting and avoided shooting himself out of the tournament on Day 1.

When Woods reached the clubhouse, he was tied for 24th and just five off the lead. He turned the day from a potential disaster that could see an early exit to a harmless score that keeps him right in the thick of things with 54 holes to play.

This was classic grinder Tiger.

The day began inauspiciously when Woods’ highly anticipated first tee shot turned out to be a dead pull 3-wood into the left trees. Only some great recovery skills allowed him to save par.

Things looked up when Woods poured in a nine-footer for birdie at the par-4 third to move to 1 under and within one of the lead.

But back-to-back bogeys followed and he failed to capitalize on a good birdie opportunity at the par-3 sixth. He was out in 1-over 37, then drove right at the par-4 11th and ended up making bogey to fall to 2 over.

Then came the 12th, where Woods’ tee shot floated right, hit the front bank and rolled back into the water. After a pitch over the water to that spot in the fringe, that drained putt proved to be enormous.

Now 3 over instead of plus-4, Woods proceeded to hit his second at the par-4 14th to seven feet and got the birdie putt to fall on the left side. Two holes later, his 22-footer for birdie rimmed in the right side of the cup.

Suddenly, he was back to 1 over. Two pars to close meant he had closed out an enviable 73 from where he was earlier in the back nine.

If you’re looking for markers for Woods on Day 1, well he has to play better than this if he wishes to win. But he did avoid the 76 or 77 that could’ve killed his chances after 18 holes.

Woods hit 8/14 fairways and 11/18 greens in regulation. He took 28 putts.

His driver was strong at times, but there were some wayward shots off the tee. Actually, his 3-wood was less accurate off the tee than the big stick.

His irons were solid but unspectacular. Then again, it was tough to tell when he was hitting a number of punch recovery shots. The fact two of those went into the gallery wasn’t an ideal sign, but everything turned out OK.

Woods’ short game wasn’t bad, but it could use some work. There were no serious flubs, but some of his efforts around the greens were a little lackluster while others were textbook. His putter was solid, but he did miss some chances. But he also holed a few key putts to keep his round from falling apart.

Overall, this isn’t what Woods was looking for Thursday. Yet, he’s still in a solid position through 18 holes. If he gets hot on Friday, we could be in for a wild weekend.

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