Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player may well have got the 2022 Masters tournament underway, but the name on everyone’s lips on the opening day was, of course, Tiger Woods.
How would Tiger cope in his first top-level tournament since his vehicle crash back in February 2021? Would his body stand the rigors? Would he be mentally strong enough? Was his game at the required level?
The answers? All of them were very much ‘yes’ after yesterday’s fine one-under par round of 71 leaves him tied in 10th place in the tournament.
Non Believers Into Believers
After Woods confirmed his entry into the Masters earlier this week, he also indicated
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 07: Tiger Woods plays his shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
that he would not enter the tournament if he did not believe he could win it.
Many probably doubted that a player could come back from such a horrific injury and in their first tournament, against the elite in world golf, win it.
However, after an impressive opening round, Woods may just be turning a few non-believers into believers.
“There’s a long way to go, it is a marathon, but it is nice to get off to a positive start,” stated Woods following his 1-under round yesterday.
Indeed just teeing it up at Augusta felt like a victory to Woods.
“To see where I’ve been, to get from there to here, it was no easy task. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to be able to play, and not only that, to play in the Masters and to have this type of reception. I mean the place was electric.”
Slight Delay To Start
After overnight thunderstorms saw the start time delayed by 30 minutes, the tournament began with three legends hitting the ceremonial tee-shots, but it was the modern legend of the game that was the major news story of the day.
It wasn’t perfect golf from Woods, far from it. There are still a few too many errant shots for his liking, but what was impressive was that mentally, it was the same Tiger Woods. He’d use his undeniable genius for shot creation to get himself out of trouble and scramble for par.
Scrambling may have helped but it was Woods’ performance on the greens that secured a below par score, landing superb pars on the 1st, 9th, 10th, 11th and 18th to turn what could have been a below average round into a good one.
Taken Their Toll
It is abundantly clear just how much the injuries he sustained have impacted Woods physicality. He can’t bend down as ably as he once did and he is notably slower when swinging the ball from the tee, and yesterday he averaged 288 yards with his tee shots.
But no player in the course has a better knowledge of Augusta that Woods and he will know that this is a course where power and distance is not the primary requirement for a winner.
An ability to land tough pars, putt well and be as accurate as you can with tee shots and approach shots is, and Woods, in that respect did well.
Of course, we will know a lot more after his second round later today, but Tiger is back and on the prowl.
And the World of Golf is so much better for it.
Masters Leaderboard – After Round 1
Sung-Jae Im -5
Cameron Smith -4
Dustin Johnson, Danny Willett, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler -3
Corey Conners, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Kokrak -2
Webb Simpson, Harold Varner III, Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick, Harry Higgs, Kevin Na, Daniel Berger, Tiger Woods, Tony Finau -1.
FEATURED IMAGE – AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 07: Tiger Woods reacts after making birdie on the 13th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 07, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)