Sports Tiger still confident after roller coaster opening round

02:50  06 april  2018
02:50  06 april  2018 Source:   thescore.com

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  Tiger still confident after roller coaster opening round © Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Tiger Woods has shot in the 60s in the first round of the Masters only once, en route to a tie for fourth in 2010 when he returned to golf after a scandal-laden finish to 2009.

That run of rounds in the 70s continued Thursday, as Woods shot a 1-over 73 that could've been much worse.

It could've been better, too.

“It was interesting,” Woods said on the ESPN broadcast after his round. “It was up and down for me today.”

Woods started the day pulling his opening tee shot left on the par-4 first, but scrambled for a par after a long putt from the front of the green.

“Not exactly the best start,” Woods said with his trademark smile.

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He found the greenside bunker on the par-5 second, but missed a 13-foot birdie putt and had to settle for par there, too.

That was a common thread throughout the day, as Woods also missed birdie putts from seven feet (No. 6), 12 feet (No. 13), and 16 feet (No. 17). It was a scrambling kind of day for Woods otherwise, as his shot-tracker looked more like a paint-by-numbers of a child who hadn't learned to count yet. The lines were all over the place.

Woods hit it into the patrons on the par-4 11th, en route to a bogey. He knocked it into the water on the par-3 12th - en route to another bogey - before hitting it into the trees on the par-5 13th off the tee, along with the trees on the par-5 15th.

Woods played the four par 5’s at even par Thursday, something that will have to be rectified if he hopes to contend. Early co-leader Henrik Stenson birdied both par 5’s on the second nine, while co-leader Charley Hoffman birdied three of the four par 5’s.

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“I had some opportunities to make some birdies and I didn’t do it,” said Woods. “I played the par fives very sloppily today, and that was the difference in the round. If I played those halfway decent, I would have been under par for the day.”

The greens were much quicker Thursday than during the three practice rounds, according to 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir, and the wind was swirling around in an unpredictable way.

“Golf is a game of inches, and no more than here,” Mike Weir said on the television broadcast after his round, alluding to how the greens were rolling “really fast,” and even if he missed his landing area by a few feet, he’d end up a few yards away.

Woods birdied the par-4 14th, which played as the hardest hole on the course through most of Thursday, along with the par-3 16th, draining a 22-footer. He started his day with back-to- back pars before making a birdie on the short par-4 3rd, having him make an early appearance on the leaderboard.

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That was the lone time Woods was under par on the day (he bogeyed the next two holes).

Woods has been over par after the first round of one of his Masters victory, in 2005 (he shot 2-over- par 74). He also shot 73 in his first round twice before, in 2015 (he finished T17) and in 2007, when he finished runner-up.

The four-time Masters winner said he felt good, health-wise. He has a five-shot deficit to make up Friday, but he's confident in what’s to come.

“I definitely didn’t score as well as I played, I hit the ball better than my score indicated,” Woods said on the ESPN broadcast. “This is a very bunched leaderboard and by the end of the week I think it’s going to be very crowded.”

Woods will be once again paired with Australian Marc Leishman and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood for Friday’s second round, teeing off at 1:27 p.m. ET.

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