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06 Abril 2018, 01:56 | Gervasio Siguenza
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On a sunny, still day, a large crowd massed around the first tee to see Tiger Woods hit his first competitive shot at Augusta National since 2015. There's just a different mindset. the key is to stay patient. This year, only Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar stand between McIlroy and a potential Friday evening pairing announcement with Spieth going into the weekend.
Not willing to surrender his chance of playing in the year's first major Finau hobbled his way to the top of the leaderboard ahead of a glittering lineup of major winners. Finau reconstructed his dislocated ankle on Wednesday and shot a 4-under 68 almost 24 hours later in his first-ever round at Augusta National.
X-rays were negative, and Finau was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. That honor went to amateur Doug Ghim, a Texas senior who made a pair on the back nine but not in the Masters' conventional way.
And go he did. "I'm just a guy who got lucky".
Tonight's plan? "Elevate and ice", he said, smiling.
The four-time Masters champion was upstaged for much of the day by Australian playing partner Marc Leishman, the first round leader in 2013 off to another flier here until a double-bogey at 15 knocked him from the top of the board. He started this week ranked 185th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Really, he has done nothing well on the greens, from three-footers to 30-footers and everything in between.
"I could have easily let it slip away and I fought hard to get back in there", Woods said.
Woods got into red figures when he drained a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-four third hole but then made consecutive bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes. None of that mattered when Spieth arrived at Augusta National.
On Thursday, he birdied Nos.
Dating to 1991, with the exception of Zach Johnson in 2007 (T-4th), Bubba Watson in 2012 (T-3rd), Adam Scott in 2013 (3rd) and Danny Willett in 2016 (T-5th), each Masters champion has been T-2nd or better after 54 holes.
Sergio Garcia's title defence effectively came to an embarrassing end as he took an awesome 13 shots to play the 15th hole. He wound up with an 81, the highest score in the opening round by a defending Masters champion.
When asked to assess his historic octuple, Garcia sounded less than impressed by the hole location paired with the speed and firmness of the sloping green.
"I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and unfortunately the ball just didn't want to stop", Garcia said after the round.
Spieth, who seems to have an on-going love affair with this golf course, hit five birdies on the spin through 13 to 17 before a stunning recovery off the edge of the 18 green - after he'd found the trees with a hooked drive - saw him finish with a bogey.
Woods, a four-time Masters victor, has played Augusta national´s back-nine par-5 holes, the 13th and 15th, in a combined 92-under par in prior starts and the front nine par-5s, the second and eighth, in a combined 58-under.
He was back to producing Sunday-sounding roars at the Masters by making eagles on the back nine.
He'll put it down as one of those things, and I don't think there's any need for him, or anyone else, to overreact to this. Never miss once on TV for the Masters. Despite another mighty blow with his driver, he couldn't birdie the eighth, the second par-5 on the front nine.
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