Expectations were mixed for Tiger Woods’ return to the Masters on Thursday. On the one hand, everyone wanted to see a great performance by the Tiger. On the other hand, we thought that with what he had been through, it would have been normal for Woods to experience difficulties.
Updated yesterday at 8:07 p.m.
Finally, this first round will have been crowned with success for the five-time champion. Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, but few will complain about that.
The reception the American received was unparalleled. Hundreds of people had gathered around the first hole when it teeed off shortly after 11 a.m., following delays due to a morning thunderstorm.
Woods started his day very well with five consecutive pars. He missed two birdies for lack of precision and adjustment. Especially on the fifth hole, where he made a second shot quite exceptional. His birdie putt circled around the cup without ever falling into the hole.
But the round was still young at that time.
It was on the sixth hole that he made his first birdie. On this par 3 of 186 yards, he managed to put his tee shot just one meter from the flag. The crowd exploded. For the first time today, Woods went below par.
In the eighth, he made “two stupid mistakes,” as he said after his round. It is a question in particular of his approach shot, his third of the hole, which did not reach the green of this par 5.
It happened a few times. Many times he’s come up short with his irons, probably because he can’t generate as much power as he would like. It was in the eighth that he scored his first bogey.
Woods finished the front nine tied with par.
At the start of the back nine, which is less physically demanding than the front nine, the Tiger started like a lion. Three pars and a birdie on the first four holes. His tee shot at 13and helped him, as did his first putt, for the eagle, which missed a bit of distance. Woods was back below par.
At the exit of the Amen Corner, at 14andhe sent his tee shot completely to the left of the fairway. He will have made this error four times during the day. He still got out of trouble with an excellent second shot, between the trees, but he couldn’t avoid the bogey.
It’s at the mythical 16and hole that Woods will have made his last stunt. After a tee shot that put his ball to the right of the green, he wedged a very long putt. Fists in the air, the screams of the crowd, Woods was well and truly back!
He finished his round with two pars. He therefore handed over a card of 71 (- 1) at the end of this highly anticipated first day, during which he did not disappoint.
” I felt good ”
In an interview after his first round, Woods was generally quite happy with his game and his day, even if it started off badly. He admitted to having practiced badly before taking the start, but the adrenaline quickly made him forget his bad warm-up period.
I knew I could put on a good performance because I had played practice rounds beforehand.
Basically, Woods just wanted to feel comfortable for this first day and, despite the score, he thinks it’s successful: “I felt good. The idea was to push the machine while remaining careful, and that’s what is the most difficult. When the adrenaline kicked in, I focused, walked into my world, and did what I had to do. »
When the interviewer asked him how he was going to prepare for this Friday’s round, Woods offered a very simple answer: “put on a lot of ice!” »
Sungjae Im leads after the first round. The South Korean delivered a card of 67, five strokes under par. The 24-year-old golfer had five birdies and an eagle.
The Australian Cameron Smith follows him very closely, one shot behind. The Players Championship champion a few weeks ago, Smith got his day off to a bad start with a double bogey on the first hole. He then birdied eight in 16 holes, before finishing with a second double bogey.
Dustin Johnson completes the top three. The 2020 fall edition champion is at -3 after the first round.
Interestingly, when Johnson won the green jacket, Im finished tied for second with Smith. Same today, but out of order.
This time, Johnson is third, tied with three other golfers: 2016 champion Danny Willett, Joaquin Niemann and world number one Scottie Scheffler.
The best Canadian result came from Corey Conners, who turned in a -2 for seventh place.
Tiger Woods, who is scheduled to start at 1:41 p.m. this Friday, is in 10and position, at – 1.