The Masters: Lee Westwood leads, Tiger Woods tied for 29th
Lee Westwood took the first round lead at the Masters tournament at Augusta National for the first time in his career, shooting a 5-under 67. Tiger Woods shot par, and Rory McIlroy shot one under par. Phil Mickelson struggled.
At times, it felt more like the last day of the Masters than the first — with errant tee shots and thoughts of bad swings turning Augusta National into a fragile free-for-all for Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and lots of other would-be leaders.Skip to next paragraph
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Lee Westwood never got caught up in the pressure cooker.
One of the best players to never win a major took the lead after the first round for the first time in his career, shooting a stress-free 5-under 67 on a day when Woods couldn't control his driver, Mickelson spent time tromping through the scrub and the man who led for most of the day, Henrik Stenson, closed out his day with a quadruple-bogey meltdown that sent him tumbling down the standings.
"Just trying to cruise my way into the tournament today and get in a good position and then hopefully stay there," Westwood said.
Westwood tees off Friday at 9:40 am. McIlroy has a 10:35 start time. Tiger Woods starts his second round at 1:42 pm.
McIlroy, expected to be part of a two-man show with Woods, opened the day with a double bogey and spent the rest of the round scrambling to get in the red — something he finally did with a birdie on No. 18 to close at 71.
"I wouldn't quite say it was a soap opera, but it wasn't the best, obviously," he said, after hitting only six of 14 fairways. "It wasn't the start that I would have liked to have got off to."
Westwood, meanwhile, looked to be in his comfort zone. He knows how to compete at majors, with six top-three finishes since 2008. At Augusta two years ago, he was the leader heading into the final round. On that day, he three-putted the ninth green to lose the lead and ended up as a bit player while Mickelson won his third green jacket.
Westwood's methods after all these close calls?
"When you're in contention and don't finish it off, you go home and assess what you didn't do and what you can improve," he said. "And that's what I did."
On this day, his plans worked. He rattled off four straight birdies from Nos. 5 through 8, and didn't face a putt of longer than 10 feet on any of them.
Easy when it's going that well.
Woods, Mickelson and the rest never enjoyed that feeling on a damp day that was built for scoring, save some tough pin positions and all the mud on the ball.