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Tiger Woods opens Masters with shaky even-par 72

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Tiger Woods / Getty Images

We've seen some highly-anticipated Masters over the years, but coming into the 2012 edition, the hype seemed to hit a fevered pitch after Tiger Woods first official win in more than two years, setting the stage for what many thought could be a return to greatness for the 14-time major winner at the Masters.

Through one round, however, it's hard to tell if a return to greatness will be in the cards this week. Thursday's round was far from spotless or spectacular, but Woods still found a way to put himself in a decent position after the first round, posting an ever-par 72 that left him only five shots back of Lee Westwood.

In typical Woods fashion, the round wasn't short of highlights, including a couple of Houdini-esque par saves on the opening two holes after he snap hooked his drive on the first and repeated the shot again on the second, watching the ball disappear deep into the woods before it came to rest in a creek that wasn't even visible from the tee. But somehow, some way, Woods managed to escape with pars on both holes.

It was an inauspicious start to the week, but in all honesty, getting away with pars on the first two holes had to feel like a gift. Woods seemed to sense how fortunate he was, rolling in a birdie putt on the third and another on the eighth to go out in 1-under 35.

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Despite missing out prime opportunities to add a few more birdies to his scorecard on the par-5 13th and 15th, two holes he's feasted on in his Masters career, there's no doubt Woods will be content with his opening round.

In 17 previous appearances, he's managed to break only 70 once, so this is right in line with the way things have usually gone on Thursday. Plus, the way the driver was going today — he had a number of snap hooks, including one on the 18th that forced him to take a unplayable — keeping it at even par should feel like an accomplishment.

He'll certainly want to get the snap hooks out of his system before Friday's second round, but for the moment, he's right there in the mix at the Masters, and that's all Woods could really ask for after one round.

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