Tiger Woods’ Masters defense begins with a record round

Tiger Woods waited 578 days to defend the Masters title he won last April. 

He then waited another three hours on Thursday morning at Augusta National Golf Club due to storms. He was to begin his first round at 7:55 a.m.. He took his first swing, with a 3-wood on 10, at around 11. 

Woods made up for the lost time.  

The 15-time major champion made four birdies and no bogeys for a four-under 68, tied for his best-ever opening round at the Masters and tied for his second-best round this year. Woods was three shots behind Paul Casey when he finished his round. 

Woods parred his first three holes. He then played his next seven at four under. 

Woods birdied the 510-yard, par-5 13th. He just missed the fairway with his drive, hit his second shot, from 192 yards out, to within 45 feet, and he two-putted for the 4. Woods birdied the 530-yard, par-5 15th. He drove it down the middle, hit his second shot, from 229 yards out, over the green, then got up and down for the 4. Woods birdied the 170-yard, par-3 16th. He hit his tee shot just past the hole and to the right, and it trickled to within two feet.

Woods started his second nine, the first nine at Augusta, with another birdie. He hit his tee shot 266 yards down the fairway, hit his approach, from 175 out, to within 20 feet, and he rolled in the putt for the 3. 

From there, Woods parred out for his 68. He had not had a bogey-free round at a major in 105 rounds. The five-time Masters champion had also broken 70 only one other time in his 22 previous Masters opening rounds, in 2010, with another 68.

At Tuesday’s pre-tournament press conference, Woods said “I believe I can win.”

“I’ve proved that I can do it,” Woods said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot over the past 12, 13 months, but more than anything, I’ve proven to myself that I can play at this level again.”   

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor