The pins were tucked in some of the tougher positions at the Masters, especially for the opening round, such as a right pin on the par-3 12th typically only seen on a Sunday.
“It was what I expected throughout the week, but maybe not on Thursday,” Zach Johnson said after a 70.
And it sure wasn’t easy getting at some of those pins with splotches of mud on the ball. Keegan Bradley had to deal with it on the opening hole. His shot went left of the bunker and he made double bogey. Steve Stricker was trying to lay up on the par-5 eighth hole when mud on his ball caused it to veer sharply to the left and into the pines. He made bogey.
Kyle Stanley was asked where he had to cope with mud.
“One, two, five, 10, 11, 13, 15,” he said. “That was it.”
Woods had other issues.
With thousands of fans lining the first fairway, they looked toward the sky to find the flight of his ball and figured out where it went by the sound of a hard, hollow knock striking Georgia pine. On the next hole, he pulled his tee shot toward the creek for a penalty shot. In both cases, he escaped with par by making putts of 8 and 5 feet.
But there was no escaping the finish. A tee shot to the left on the 17th left him no angle to get on the green, so Woods hit into the front bunker and failed to save par. And on the 18th, another wild hook went into the trees. Woods had to take a penalty stroke to get relief, and only a delicate pitch left of the green allowed him to save bogey.
Woods usually talks about the shots that got away. This time, there weren’t many.
“Today I squeezed a lot out of that round,” he said. “I just felt my way around today. I know how to play this golf course. I think it’s just understanding what I need to do.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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