AUGUSTA, Ga. — The most anticipated Masters in years (ever?) quickly turned into a collective pity party, as Tiger Woods’ return to Augusta for the first time since 2015 failed to live up to the hype. That is, until it did, if only a little bit.
Through 12, Tiger had buried himself in a hole that had all the feel of a pre-weekend exit. He couldn’t hit a fairway, couldn’t recover, couldn’t sink a putt. He was seven strokes back, out of contention and in need of a rally just to make it to Saturday.
Then he birdied 14, which to that point only one other player had done, carded another at the par-3 16th and suddenly his day was looking only partly bleak.
Tiger finished with a mistake-filled 73, still leaving him seven shots back of Jordan Spieth, who went crazy on the back nine in the afternoon rounds.
What went wrong?
Mainly the driver. It started on that first tee, when Tiger put his drive in the trees on the left side, and it continued from there. He found trees, he found sand, he found more trees. And when he did find the fairway, rarely did he give himself a makeable birdie putt.
He went off the rails a bit on 11, when he ripped his drive so far right that he actually rooted for it to go further right so as to find a clearing. From there he launched a line-drive recovery shot straight into the gallery, sending patrons (as they’re known here at Augusta) scrambling, and proceeded to make bogey.
Were there any highlights?
He carded three birdies, giving the crowd something to cheer about. But probably the biggest moment of his round came at the par-3 12th when, after his tee shot found the water, Tiger got up and down (sinking a 15-footer) to salvage bogey.
Yeah, the highlight of his day was salvaging bogey, because right after that he birdied two of his next four holes.
Is he still in contention?
There are still 54 holes to play, so yeah. He’s Tiger Woods and he’s healthy, so there’s that. Still, he’s seven back, staring up (if he can see him) at the Tiger Woods 2.0 of Augusta, Jordan Spieth.
Could you actually see Tiger on the course?
No. The worst place to watch Tiger Woods play is on the course itself. When he teed off at 10:42 a.m., the crowd went 10-, 20-, 30-deep, depending on the pitch of the hill behind No. 1. And things only got worse from there. Needless to say, it would have helped to have a periscope, a la this.
More Masters coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• This could be the worst hole of golf you’ll ever see
• Bus overturns en route to Masters, driver charged with DUI
• Golfer’s hole-in-one celebration goes horribly wrong
• Dan Wetzel: The bromance of Phil and Tiger