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A scrambling start

Tiger Woods carved out an even-par 72 to open the Masters on Thursday, but he took the scenic route around Augusta National thanks to several tee shots that were far off the mark. He hit only six fairways on the day, but his scrambling kept him alive.

PGATOUR.com
A scrambling start
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A scrambling start

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Two weeks removed from his first victory in two years, Tiger Woods had a few big misses in Thursday's opening round of the Masters.

"Same old motor patterns with all the clubs," said Woods. "The Hank [Haney] backswing with a new downswing."

It didn't take long for it to rear its ugly head. Woods pulled his opening tee shot left and into the trees before scrambling to make par.

One hole later he went left again, this time landing in a hazard on the par-5 second. Woods took a drop and again rallied to save par.

At least four times Woods pulled the ball badly, including on the 18th, where he had to take an unplayable lie after his ball landed against a tree. This time he wasn't so fortunate and made bogey for the second straight hole to finish with an even-par 72.

"I didn't hit it very good at all," Woods said.

As bad as Woods hit it, however, his score could have been much worse.

If there's one thing he's mastered through the years, it's turning 75s into 72s, and that's what he did Thursday, looking a lot more like the player who's won four Green Jackets when he needed to.

On the par-4 first, Woods' tee shot hit a tree and was at least 100 yards back of playing partners Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sang-Moon Bae. He dug it out of the pine needles and got up-and-down to save par.

On the par-5 second, he was so far left the ball came to rest in a hazard. Woods took a drop, was on the green in four and again made par.

"Warmed up bad, and it continued on the golf course," Woods said.

Woods did have his share of bright spots -- a birdie on No. 3, another on No. 8 and one on No. 10 -- but he fought his swing all day.

Two weeks removed from winning at Bay Hill, Woods, who is ranked first in total driving on the PGA TOUR, hit just six fairways Thursday.

Still, he left himself in good shape in what's traditionally been his worst round of this tournament, as he trails leader Lee Westwood by five. Only once has Woods broken 70 in the opening round in 17 visits to Augusta National. Ten times he's shot 72 or worse.

"I could've got maybe one, maybe two more out of that, that's about it," Woods said.

In 2005, Woods shot 74 in the opening round before bouncing back with scores of 66 and 65 the next two days. That was the last time he won here.

"I just felt my way around today," said Woods, who went straight to the driving range after his round. "I know how to play this golf course. It's just understanding what I need to do."

Woods wasn't the only player to struggle.

Despite soft conditions from rain the last two nights, scoring was more difficult in the opening round than in recent years.

Henrik Stenson was leading at 5 under when he quadruple-bogeyed the 18th hole.

Phil Mickelson made three bogeys on the front nine before adding a triple bogey on the 10th hole.

Martin Kaymer, who's never made a cut in four appearances here, went out in 2 under only to make three bogeys and one birdie coming in to shoot even par.

Jason Day and Adam Scott, who both tied for second a year ago, were each over par Thursday.

"This golf course is playing too difficult to go super low on," Woods said. "Some of these pins are really tough.

"I made some bad swings. That's fine. My commitment to each and every shot was something that I'm excited about and I can take some positives going into tomorrow. At least I have something to build on."

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