AUGUSTA, Georgia – A rusty Tiger Woods will need to find a little polish after he opened the Masters with a two-over 74 on Thursday that left the five-times Green Jacket winner in danger of missing his first ever cut as a professional at Augusta National.
It was a disappointing afternoon among the towering Georgia pines for Woods who a year ago stunned the galleries when he returned from a car crash that almost resulted in the loss of his right leg to fire a 71 that had the golf world buzzing.
Even in Thursday’s ideal scoring conditions Woods could not conjure up the same magic and he limped off the 18th green lamenting a lost opportunity with the forecast predicting rain and cold temperatures that are sure to put his surgically repaired leg to an even bigger test.
Asked how his leg felt, Woods had one word: “Sore.”
Woods, playing in his 25th Masters, has never missed a Masters cut as a professional although he did fail to make the weekend in 1996 when he entered as an amateur.
That streak now appears to be in danger.
“Today was the opportune time to get the round under par, and I didn’t do that today,” said Woods. “Most of the guys are going low today. This was the day to do it.
“Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be a little bit better, a little bit sharper.
Back-to-back birdies 👀@TigerWoods is feeling it at #theMasters pic.twitter.com/BECtvtezEn
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 6, 2023
After just one competitive round this year, in February at the Genesis Invitational, the 47-year-old American picked up three bogeys over his first seven holes.
The 15-time major champion made a late move as he rolled in a curling 27-foot birdie at the par-five 15th, followed by another at the par-three 16th, but he closed with a bogey after an unfortunate break off the tee that left him with an awkward stance with his right foot in a bunker.
As ever, Woods refused to wave the white flag believing as always there is a way to get the job done and when it comes to the Masters few will be writing off his chances.
“This is going to be an interesting finish to the tournament with the weather coming in,” said Woods, already nine shots behind the early leaders Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka.
“If I can just kind of hang in there, maybe kind of inch my way back, hopefully it will be positive towards the end.”
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