TIGER WOODS all of the sudden remembered who he’s – and the place he was – as he roared again to kind at Augusta.
The defending Masters champion revived recollections of his sensational victory right here 19 months in the past as he opened with an excellent bogey-free 68.
Tiger Woods started his Masters defence in spectacular modelCredit score: Getty Pictures
That’s Woods’ joint lowest first spherical rating in his 23 Masters appearances – he has solely managed to interrupt 70 as soon as earlier than, ten years in the past, when he completed fourth.
Woods, 44, has been taking part in dismal golf this yr. A share of thirty seventh on the USPGA Championship was his finest effort in his final seven outings.
However it appeared all he wanted was a whiff of the Augusta air to re-invigorate him, and it didn’t take him lengthy to indicate his rivals he wouldn’t hand over the inexperienced jacket and not using a actual combat.
It didn’t look too promising when he carved his strategy shot to his opening gap, the fearsome 495 yards tenth, means left of the placing floor from the center of the green.
However Woods’ loud grunt of “mud ball” defined that miss, and an excellent chip ensured there was no injury executed.
The five-time champion admitted Augusta felt very totally different this yrCredit score: AP:Related Press
Tiger Woods admitted he missed the vitality of the patronsCredit score: Getty Pictures
He missed a 25 footer for birdie on the eleventh and adopted with a rock strong par on the twelfth, the scene of a lot closing day carnage when he got here from behind to win a Main for the primary time final April.
However he had come by way of a tricky opening stretch that featured three of the 4 hardest holes at Augusta unscathed, and you may see the 15-time Main champion rising in confidence.
It meant he was in fine condition to assault the 2 pars on the again 9, though he breathed an enormous sigh of aid when his second shot to the thirteenth solely simply made it over Rae’s Creek.
A two-putt birdie there was adopted by an identical effort on the fifteenth, and if there had been any followers allowed in they’d have rocked the place with one of the famous Augusta roars as Woods nearly holed his tee shot on the quick sixteenth.
His tap-in birdie there took him to a few beneath par, and it received even higher as he set out on the entrance 9.
The primary gap has prompted Tiger loads of issues up to now. He was a mixed 17 over par there for his 86 earlier Masters rounds.
The reigning champion completed on 4 beneath par on ThursdayCredit score: Getty Pictures
However he shaved a shot off the deficit with birdie quantity 4, nailing a curling twenty footer for his three, and the subsequent huge check got here as he stood on the tee on the 195 yards fifth.
He bogeyed that gap each single day final yr, in any other case he would have gained with a bit to spare as an alternative of scrambling house by one shot.
And he appeared to worry the worst as he pulled his strategy shot left once more. Watching because it got here to relaxation in an ungainly spot a couple of inches in entrance of a bunker.
Woods opted to putt by way of the perimeter, and that technique paid off as he coaxed his forty footer to inside a few ft of the flag. That par should have felt like one other birdie.
It eased his frustration at failing to reap the benefits of the 2 par fives on the entrance 9, as he coated house with a run of eight straight pars.
However it was nonetheless a loud reminder that it by no means pays to write down the previous world No 1 odd – particularly at Augusta.
Woods informed Sky Sports activities: “I perceive how you can play this golf course. It permits expertise.
“Folks do effectively right here late into their careers simply understanding how you can play this golf course.
“Each gap has been principally redesigned and resurfaced however the general landscapes have not modified and simply understanding that from yr to yr actually does assist.”
He added: “There have been so many variations – not solely the sight traces however the vitality, there are not any roars.
“I hit a shot into 9, my 18th gap of the day, and received 4 or 5 claps. The vitality is so totally different.
“However we’re in a position to compete for a inexperienced jacket this week which originally of the yr appeared unbelievable.”