By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports activities Author
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Tiger Woods often takes a day or two to get going at Augusta Nationwide.
Defying his lackluster kind to not point out a historical past of gradual begins at these hallowed grounds, Woods shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 on Thursday within the opening spherical of the Masters, a tantalizing show by the defending champion in his quest for a record-tying sixth inexperienced jacket.
“I did the whole lot effectively,” Woods mentioned. “I drove it effectively, hit my irons effectively, putted effectively.”
Nineteen months after a surprising Augusta triumph, Woods and his inexperienced jacket returned for a pandemic-delayed event being performed deep into fall reasonably than its conventional spot in the beginning of spring.
Woods hasn’t performed a lot this 12 months, returning warily from a five-month layoff to play a half-dozen tournaments main as much as the Masters.
The outcomes weren’t encouraging
Woods’ highest end was a tie for 37th on the PGA Championship. He did not qualify for the Tour Championship. He missed the minimize on the U.S. Open. He tied for 72nd — beating simply three gamers — within the Zozo Championship at Sherwood, a course that has at all times been considered one of his strongest.
However one thing at all times appears to click on in Woods’ sport as quickly as he drives down Magnolia Lane.
“I feel that understanding find out how to play this golf course is so necessary,” he mentioned. “I have been fortunate sufficient to have so many apply rounds all through my profession with so many previous champions, and I used to be in a position to win this occasion early in my profession and construct myself up for the understanding that I’m going to return right here each 12 months.”
Even in the very best of occasions, Woods often will get off to a sluggish begin.
It was solely the second time he is damaged 70 within the opening spherical at Augusta, matching the 68 he shot to start the 2010 Masters.
Extra telling, it was his first bogey-free spherical in a significant championship because the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
There was actually just one shot that Woods needed again.
Ending up on the entrance aspect, he was in excellent place to arrange one other birdie with a wedge to the par-5 eighth gap. He wound up settling for par after the ball landed on the improper shelf of the lengthy, tiered inexperienced.
“Apart from that, I simply did the whole lot effectively,” Woods mentioned. “The one factor I may say is that I want I may have made a pair extra putts. I missed the whole lot on the excessive aspect.”
However that was simply nitpicking. Like so lots of his rivals, Woods took benefit of prime scoring circumstances on a day that turned sunny and unseasonably heat — with barely a flicker of a breeze — after a morning storm moved via Augusta, forcing a delay of practically three hours.
“I obtained off to a quick begin at the moment, which is sweet, however I feel everyone seems to be,” Woods mentioned. “Everybody goes low on the market at the moment. With these circumstances, you need to. You need to be aggressive. There’s no motive why you possibly can’t hearth at plenty of the flags.”
Woods was three pictures behind Paul Casey on an incomplete leaderboard. Roughly half the sector was set to return Friday morning to finish the spherical.
Everybody was trying to find the appropriate formulation to shine in a most uncommon Masters.
Due to the pandemic, there have been not one of the customary roars from tens of hundreds of patrons. Attendance was restricted to some hundred staff, membership members and shut household. With solely an occasional smattering of applause, the environment was extra akin to a nondescript novice event than one of many world’s most well-known sporting occasions.
“It’s so totally different,” Woods mentioned. “The electrical energy is simply not there.”
He did his greatest to generate some.
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