For a long stretch of his opening round at the Masters, Tiger Woods looked like a man who had only played four competitive rounds of golf in the last eight months.
Woods posted his highest opening score at Augusta National since 2005, finishing 2-over 74.
He sat at 3-over after No. 14, 10 strokes back of the leader and his playing partner, Viktor Hovland. Woods briefly battled back with a curling birdie on the par-5 15th and a brilliant tee shot on the par-3 16th to pour in a second straight. However, he finished with a bogey on the 18th.
The main culprit for Woods’ struggles was his short game. A loose wedge burned him on multiple approach shots, and the five-time winner couldn’t get comfortable on the greens with 33 putts through 18 holes. That included two uncharacteristic three-putts, which is becoming a more frequent visual with Woods.
While there are concerns about whether Woods can walk Augusta National over four days following his near-fatal car accident in February 2021, the 15-time major winner’s leg looked as good as he’s seemed in recent outings.
However, Woods has frequently said the second-biggest issue related to his leg is the inability to get tournament reps heading into each major. Although his long game looked solid Thursday, his short-game struggles can be directly related to the fact he’s played just four tournament rounds since the Open Championship last July.
The 47-year-old will now have to get his body fresh overnight for Friday. With thunderstorms in the forecast for the second round, it could be a challenge for Woods to stay loose with frequent stops and starts expected.
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