Tiger Woods overcame two nightmarish tee shots at the start of the 76th Masters to stand one-under par after nine holes yesterday in the opening round of the year’s first major tournament. The 14-time major champion, chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, seeks his fifth Masters title and 73rd US PGA crown in his first event since snapping a 28-month win drought two weeks ago.
Former World No 1 Woods birdied the par-4 third and par-5 eighth holes and took a bogey at the par-4 seventh to make the turn in 35 in his first round since capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month at Bay Hill. 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 Snead.
At one-under, Woods shared sixth, five strokes behind leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden and two behind clubhouse leader Paul Lawrie of Scotland. His inaugural shot hook left off the first tee, smacked a pine tree left of the fairway 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. Woods went up and down from there for another clutch par save even as spectators still scrambled through the bushes seeking a Woods souvenir ball. World No 7 Woods found the fairway and green at the third and sank an eight-foot birdie putt to reach the leaderboard, staying there after a bogey at seven, birdie at the eighth and par at the ninth.
Obama wants Augusta to admit women golfers
US President Barack Obama believes Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, should admit women, his spokesman said yesterday as the world’s top players teed off. “His personal opinion is that women should be admitted,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, though she added it was up to the club to make decisions on its all male members policy.