Tiger Woods falters early, finds some form late in ho-hum first round of 2023 Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods was brutally honest this week when he said he wasn’t sure how many more times he’d be able to tee it up and compete in the Masters.

Early on in his first round it seemed as if he may only have 18 holes left in this year’s event.

The struggle was all too real for Woods at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday, where the 15-time major champion shot a 2-over 74 to begin his quest for a record-tying sixth green jacket.

Woods made three bogeys over his first seven holes before his first birdie of the day came on No. 8. He would soon give that shot back with a bogey on the par-4 11th before briefly catching a bit of fire towards the end of his second nine.

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Consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 brought Woods back to 1 over on his round with a chance to get back to even on the 18th. A bogey on his final hole due to a difficult stance with his second shot sealed the deal for Woods, who walked off the course T-54.

“I didn’t have very good speed early. I had two three-putts, and consequently I’m a couple over par. I didn’t hit my irons close enough today,” Woods said of his round. “I didn’t give myself very good looks. Need to do a better job of that going forward to hopefully get myself back in this tournament.”

The best club in his bag early in the round was his driver, but a few late miscues led to 9-of-13 fairways hit, but his greens in regulation (13/17) was higher than the field average.

“I felt like I drove it good. I just didn’t do the job I need to do to get the ball close,” Woods explained. “Today was the opportune time to get the ball — get the round under par, and I didn’t do that today.

“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, and kind of inch my way through it.

Still recovering from a single-car accident that nearly cost him his right leg – which is now held together by various rods, plates and bolts – Woods tried to hide his discomfort at times throughout the round, but a few grimaces were more than noticeable. He’s been adamant in the past that he can hit every shot, he just can’t walk, and noted earlier this week that his mobility isn’t up to par.

Woods had one word to describe his leg: “Sore.”

Friday’s second round will be a true test of Woods’ fitness and ability, where he’ll tee off at 1:24 p.m. ET once again alongside Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele.

“This is going to be an interesting finish to the tournament with the weather coming in,” said Woods, referencing the Friday and Saturday forecasts for thunderstorms and heavy rain. “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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