Tiger hopes 70 is again the magical Masters number
April 11, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- April 11, 2019
- Tiger Woods has his driver dialed in at Augusta National. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. – From a historical perspective, Tiger Woods was quite content to shoot a 2-under 70 in Thursday’s opening round of the Masters.
“I've shot this number and won four coats, so hopefully I can do it again,” Tiger said.
Technically, it was just the first three of his four green jackets that were fueled by an opening 70, in 1997, 2001 and 2002. The last time Woods won at Augusta National, he opened with a 2-over 74 before getting back into the mix with rounds of 66-65.
Of course, maybe his factual gaffe was his way of foreshadowing a fourth opening-70 victory. Woods was certainly solid for most of the day and was definitely in a groove off the tee.
Even a few missed short putts on the front side didn’t seem terribly troubling from his view. “Overall I felt my speed was really good all day,” he said.
“I felt like I played well and I did all the things I needed to do today to post a good number,” he added.
Two of Woods’ four birdies came at the par-5 second and 13th holes, when his 300-plus yard drives found the fairway. Although his approach shots did not leave him with makeable eagle attempts, he was happy with the way he drove the ball.
“Especially with it as warm as it is, the ball's going a long way so that we can get down there where we're going to have irons into these par 5s, excluding 8,” Woods said. “… I thought that I played the par 5s well.”
Just one time in his 22 starts at the Masters has the 43-year-old Woods opened with a round in the 60s – in 2010 when he shot 68 and eventually tied for fourth.
So 70 is about the best he expects to do on Thursday. He’s not the leader, but he doesn’t have much ground to make up.
“We still have a long way to go,” Woods said. “Tee off late tomorrow and the wind's supposed to be up, so I have my work cut out for me the rest of the week and so does everyone else.”
Woods will tee off at 1:49 p.m. ET on Friday with Jon Rahm and HaoTong Li.
Check below for hole-by-hole coverage of his first round.Tiger is seeking his fifth Masters win this week. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Rd. 1: Tiger hole-by-hole
OVERALL STATS: 9 of 14 fairways hit, 11 of 18 greens in regulation, 5 of 7 scrambling, 28 putts
18 (par 4, 465 yards): A well-struck tee shot (302 yards), but it doesn't quite cut as much as Tiger wanted, with his ball finishing in the front fairway bunker. His approach ends up on the back right of the fringe, 33 feet from the pin. His putt leaves him below the hole, 3 feet away, for a final par. (Overall: 2-under 70)
17 (par 4, 440 yards): A poor tee shot drifts to the right and finds the rough. His approach from 190 yards misses the green, landing near a greenside bunker. He chips to 9 feet but he can't save par, suffering his second bogey of the round and dropping him out of the lead. (Overall: 2 under)
16 (par 3, 170 yards): His tee shot find the green, but from 21 feet away, his birdie attempt from 21 feet leaves him with a tap-in par. (Overall: 3 under)
15 (par 5, 530 yards): His 301-yard drive finds the fairway. His second shot from 229 yards races past the green and near some trees. From there, his chip shot fails to find the putting surface, but his fourth shot is much better, and he saves par with a 3-foot putt. It's the 27th par of his Masters career at the hole, compared to 45 birdies. (Overall: 3 under)
14 (par 4, 440 yards): For one of the rare times Thursday, Tiger's driver betrays him, as it sails left into the gallery, his ball ending up under the pine trees. But he finds an opening from 149 yards away and blasts his approach above the trees. His shot finds the putting surface, and from 25 feet away, his perfect putt drops into the bottom of the cup for a birdie. That leaves him at 3 under and tied for the leading with playing partner Jon Rahm, along with Justin Harding. (Overall: 3 under)
13 (par 5, 510 yards): Tiger continues his impressive play off the tee, as his 305-yard drive cuts down the left side and finds the fairway, leaving him 190 yards from the pin. But his approach is long, his ball finding the back of the green as Tiger seems perplexed by the wind. His eagle putt from 53 feet is effective, as it leaves him with a 2-foot birdie putt. Tiger is now 1one shot behind the co-leaders that include playing partner Jon Rahm. (Overall: 2 under)
12 (par 3, 155 yards): His tee shot at the shortest hole on the course lands in the fringe just off the back of the green. His deft chip leaves him with a 2-foot par putt. (Overall: 1 under)
11 (par 4, 505 yards): Tiger starts Amen Corner with another perfect drive. His tee shot of 318 yards leaves him 195 from the pin. Another conservative approach at a tough hole finds the green 39 feet from the pin. His birdie attempt rolls 4 feet past the hole. He saves par while playing partner Jon Rahm makes just the fourth birdie of the day at that hole. (Overall: 1 under)
10 (par 4, 495 yards): His 320-yard tee shot splits the fairway. With an approach from 165 yards, he opts not to test the right-side pin placement, so he safely lands on the left side of the green, 39 feet from the pin. His lengthy birdie putt comes up 4 feet short. He settles smartly for par at one of Augusta National's toughest holes. (Overall: 1 under)
FRONT 9 STATS: 5 of 7 fairways hit, 6 of 9 greens in regulation, 2 of 3 scrambling, 14 putts
9 (par 4, 460 yards): His tee shot drifts left and scatters into the pine needles before rolling back out into the second cut of rough. It's a fortunate break, and Tiger takes advantage with a great chip from 114 yards that he sticks to 5 feet. He leaves no doubt with his birdie putt, a great way to end his front nine. (Overall: 1 under)
8 (par 5, 570 yards): A 311-yard drive deftly avoids the bunker on the right side. His approach from 267 yards , however, misses the green to the right, leaving him with a 40-yard chip shot that runs 9 feet past the pin. His birdie attempt slips by on the left side. It's a disappointing par on a hole in which Tiger is a cumulative 30 under on his Masters career. (Overall: Even)
7 (par 4, 450 yards): Using 3-wood off the tee, Tiger finds the left side of the fairway with a low stinging 280-yard shot. But as soon as he finishes his follow-through on his approach shot, he drops his club in frustration as he watches his ball headed toward the left greenside bunker. With a downhill lie, Woods does well to finish inside 5 feet, giving him a chance to save par. Unlike the previous two holes, he successfully converts the short putt. (Overall: Even)
6 (par 3, 180 yards): Draws a huge roar from the crowd with a tee shot that finishes 4 feet right of the pin. But another short miss, this time as he clips the right edge, draws a groan. A disappointing par. (Overall: Even)
5 (par 4, 495 yards): At the lengthened (by 40 yards) hole, Woods hits his first poor tee shot of his round. With his ball headed toward the bunkers on the left side, he asks for it to get down, but it doen)sn't listen, and he finds the front fairway bunker after a 287-yard drive. He's left with no option other than to chip out to the fairway, leaving him 78 yards from the pin for his third shot. A terrific chip leaves him 5 feet from the cup, but his par-saver clips the left edge, giving him his first bogey of the round. (Overall: Even)
4 (par 3, 240 yards): After Rahm's tee shot lands 28 feet left of the pin, Tiger follows with a similar result, 25 feet and on the same line. Tiger should get a nice read from Rahm's putt. But while Rahm rolls in his birdie attempt, Woods can't do the same, and he taps in for par. (Overall: 1 under)
3 (par 4, 350 yards): Sticks another drive, this time 311 yards that finishes short and left of the green. But his wedge from 43 yards is disappointing, as the ball runs off the green. A nice chip leaves him with a par putt from 3 feet. Meanwhile, playing partner HaoTong Li makes his second straight birdie to move to 2 under, while the other member of the group, Jon Rahm, also birdies. Tiger will be hitting last off the tee at the fourth hole. (Overall: 1 under)
2 (par 5, 575 yards): Another solid drive -- 340 yards down the left-side of the fairway. Trying to draw his second shot to the left-side pin, Tiger finds the right-side bunker. He blasts out, with his ball reaching the top shelf and settling 4 feet past the pin. He rolls in the birdie putt. It's the 34th birdie of his Masters career at the 2nd hole. (Overall: 1 under)
1 (par 4, 445 yards): Opening tee shot is perfect -- 317 yards and in the fairway, leaving him just 136 yards for his approach shot. His second lands left of the flagstick and spins back, settling 29 feet from the pin. Woods strolls toward the first green chatting with HaoTong Li, one of his playing partners. His birdie putt comes up just short and he taps in for par. (Overall: Even)Tiger is playing with China's HaoTong Li for the first time at a PGA TOUR event. (Kevin Cox/Getty Images)
Tiger pre-round notes
NEW PARTNERS: In his PGA TOUR career, Tiger has never been paired with Jon Rahm or HaoTong Li at a stroke play event That will change on Thursday. Of course, Woods and Rahm have had a recent encounter -- at last fall's Ryder Cup, when Rahm beat Woods 2 and 1 in Sunday Singles at Le Golf National in Paris.
PLAYER'S VIEW: Gary Player, who along with Jack Nicklaus opened the Masters with ceremonial tee shots Thursday, was asked afterwards about Tiger's career.
Said Player: "I don't think there's ever been a man that had as much talent. You put him in categories, Hogan, the most remarkable golfer I ever saw from tee‑to‑green. You look at Snead, the greatest athlete that ever played golf, and the remarkable swing that lasted. I mean, when you judge a golfer, longevity must be part of judgment, not charisma and etc., etc.
"If you look at Jack, he had the overall game he had; that's why he was such a champion. He had the overall game.
"And Tiger, he had his difficulties to encounter, and I always said if Tiger never had the problems he had, which were numerous, he would have won at least 20, 21 majors. I don't think there's a debate about that. I don't think anybody would ever deny that."
FIRST-ROUND POSITION: In Tiger's 21 Masters starts, he's been in the top 10 on the leaderboard after the first round just four times (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2010). He went on to win two of those times.
The last time he won, he was 33rd after the first round in 2005, but shot himself back into the tournament with rounds of 66 and 65, ultimately beating Chris DiMarco on the first hole of the playoff. That remains the last time any eventual Masters champ has not been inside the top 10 after the first round.
WATSON'S VIEW: Two-time Masters champ Tom Watson has no doubts that Tiger can win the green jacket for a fifth time this week. "I definitely think he can win the Masters," Watson said during a Golf Channel interview. "Watching him swing from afar, he’s got it together. I fully expect him to be in the hunt."
PAR 3s, 4s, 5s: In his Masters career, Tiger is 28-over on the par 3s, 40-over on the par 4s, and 156-under on the par 5s.
82 LESSONS: Tiger Woods, with 82 career rounds at Augusta National, says he has “a pretty good little library in my head of how to play the golf course.” But it wasn’t just those competitive rounds in which he gained the knowledge.
“Throughout the years, I also accumulated a lot of knowledge how to play it under different conditions, and playing practice rounds with guys who have won here a lot, who understand how to play it,” Woods said, “and then to be a part of the entire process of having to compete as they have evolved the golf course and trying to understand how to play it.”
HISTORY AGAINST HIM: In each of his four Masters wins, Woods arrived at Augusta National that week having already pocketed at least one win earlier that calendar year.
In 1997, he won the season-opening event at Kapaula. In 2001, he won twice -- including THE PLAYERS Championship when it was held in March. In 2002, he won at Bay Hill. And in 2005, he had two earlier wins.
Tiger's most recent win, of course, was the TOUR Championship at the end of last season.