Masters, Day 1: Woods off to a familiar (dangerous) start
Masters Day 1: Tiger Woods grazed two spectators in his first three holes, but cleaned up his game for the first round of the Masters golf tournament.
After grazing one spectator with an approach shot at No. 2 and knocking a beer out of another's hands with a tee shot at No. 3, Tiger Woods managed to get around Augusta National without doing any further damage to himself or anyone else.Skip to next paragraph
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"Solid" was the word he used afterward to describe Thursday's opening-round 70, and it was as accurate as any. In fact, the biggest stir surrounding Woods on the course came when his significant other, Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, hobbled down the first fairway with her injured right knee in a brace to watch him play, and then turned up later behind both the ninth and 18th greens to watch her man putt out. The photographers had a field day.
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Vonn would be the daredevil half of just about any relationship. But her presence here served as one more reminder that for all of Woods' reckless behavior off the course in years past, he still knows how to play cautiously when the situation demands it.
He saved par on three of the first four holes with a trio of 5-footers, then steadied himself and carved three birdies out of the next eight holes. His only hiccup came at No. 14, where he read different breaks in the green from in front of the hole and behind it and "just didn't get committed to which way it was going to break."
But Woods sounded decisive and at ease during the few minutes he spent in front the microphones out on the lawn in front of the stately old clubhouse, and here's why: Three of his four green jackets came after shooting 70 in the first round, and this time it left him close enough to the lead and in a familiar position to conjure up some of the old magic.
"It's a good start," Woods said. "Some years, some guys shot 65 starting out here. But I'm only four back and I'm right there."
For all the spectacular golf he's played, it's worth remembering that all 14 of his major wins came when Woods teed off in the final round with the lead, or at least a share of it. His M.O. generally was to get off to a solid start, clamber his way up the leaderboard in rounds two and three and let his rivals take all the risks trying to catch him.
He's won that way three times already in five starts this season and inspired by that lightning-fast start, Nike put out another one of those in-your-face ads featuring Woods that boasts, "Winning takes care of everything." But the truth is that most of the 20-somethings who grew up imitating every facet of Woods' game and his training regimen haven't seen him win all that much lately, with zero majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. He's 0 for his last 8 at the Masters.