- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. | If Tiger Woods fails to collect his fifth green jacket Sunday at the Masters, he’ll likely look back on his opening-round stretch stumble as the culprit.

After a slow start left the 14-time major champion 1-over through eight holes, the 33-year-old found his form around the turn. He birdied No. 9 to improve to par, then blitzed his way through the middle of the back nine with three straight birdies to reach the cusp of contention.

A second consecutive two-putt birdie on the back-nine par-5s left him 3-under and near the bottom of the leader board. Then an uncharacteristic series of hiccups left him to claim a disappointing opening-round 2-under 70, which leaves him five strokes behind leader Chad Campbell.

Woods missed short birdie putts inside on Nos. 16 and 17, then sent a short iron over the pin and into the gallery behind the 18th green en route to an ugly closing bogey.

Given his otherwise unparalleled record at the Masters, Woods’ opening-round performances at Augusta National remain one of the great enigmas of his career. Woods has never opened with a score in the 60s and sports a first-round scoring average of 72.47.

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