After a few speed bumps coming into the clubhouse, Tiger Woods finished his opening round at the 2013 Masters with a 2-under round of 70.
Tiger started his round with some characteristic wildness off the tee, hitting a fan and a beer cup on Nos. 2 and 3. But he avoided bogey on the first nine, opening with five straight pars, making it up on and around the green. Woods finally picked up his first birdie of the day at No. 6, firing a dart into the accessible pin. That was backed up by a birdie on the par-5 eighth, making up for a missed chance at No. 2. Turning in 34 with ample birdie opportunities ahead, it looked like Tiger would make a charge to the top of the leaderboard.
It started well enough on the second nine, with Tiger getting through Amen Corner in 1-under. He carded easy Augusta pars on 10, 11, and 12, putting his approach shots in safe places and keeping things clean on the putting surface. The 13th hole is almost a must-birdie hole for Woods, and he added another there on Thursday. He has now played that dogleg in 42-under throughout his career.
But things went off track a bit once Tiger emerged from Amen Corner. The biggest reason for his three wins this year is his putting. He's repeatedly canned moderate-length putts, saving par or picking up birdies, and had just 11 putts through his first nine holes today. Tiger went off script on No. 14, however, and it resulted in his first and only bogey of the day. Woods put his approach shot on the back of the green, leaving 30 feet to the cup. The 14th, which has been redesigned, is considered by many to be the toughest on the course and Tiger missed a five footer to three-putt and drop a shot.
It was a frustrating bogey, but probably more frustrating for Woods was the par at No. 15. Much like the 13th, the historic 15th hole is almost a must-birdie for Woods. But Tiger's approach shot missed the green, and then a birdie putt lipped out.
It was a sloppy hole in an otherwise smooth day, and Woods undoubtedly walked off the green muttering to himself. Tiger's path to major victories, or any victory, almost always requires dominance on the par-5s. The missed chances on No. 2 and No. 15, two easier holes, will anger him.
That two-hole stretch notwithstanding, Tiger finished out the day with three straight pars to settle at 2-under. In a curt interview with ESPN after the round, he said he was "very satisfied" with his day. It's a perfectly fine round and he's in prime position, it was just looking for most of the day like it would be a bogey-free loop. He's likely frustrated with an even-par 36 on the second nine, but with rain in the forecast and the course softening up, there will be plenty of chances for more red numbers on Friday afternoon.