Ian Poulter takes a harrowing path to Augusta National


Tiger Woods felt the love, but it was Jordan Spieth who heard the roars as he surged to a two-stroke lead in the Masters Thursday with a scintillating six-under par 66.

Some of golf's greatest gathered this year including four-time victor Tiger Woods, three-time victor Gary Player, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott as well as Mike Weir and Angel Cabrera who both teed it up in the 2017 Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.

Woods, who is on the comeback trail after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April and bidding for a fifth Green Jacket, did not set Augusta alight with his opening round but he was happy to be in contention at one-over par. "And I fought hard to get it back in there, and I'm back in this championship. They're really into it".

After seeing his tee shot at the 12th end up in the water, Woods did well to make birdies at 14 and 16, the latter producing a huge roar from the crowd.

The humps and hillocks of Augusta National bring out the best in Jordan Spieth, requiring him to draw upon the innate abilities bequeathed on him at birth. Which meant back-to-back bogeys, so he was one over. Spieth drove into the trees but he took his medicine and pitched a delightful fourth shot to within two feet to accept a bogey and sign for a 66.

Under the watchful eye of the entire golf world, Tiger Woods turned in a respectable 1-over.

But even with his driver repeatedly leaking right, a frightful shank on the 11th and a ball in the water at the short 12th, there were still positives for Woods to take. After he pitched to 18 feet, Woods made the bogey putt.

"I shot two rounds in the 70s and tied a scoring record here one year".

"Seventy-three is fine", Woods said. It's really hard to run away from it, but it's also really easy to lose it out there. We were anticipating just fighting our way back to even par. Despite another mighty blow with his driver, he couldn't birdie the eighth, the second par-5 on the front nine. I don't know, if it carries probably two more feet, it's probably a give [gimme]. I feel that's the way you have to play this place.

Spieth finally showed he was human on 18.

"There's no way I thought I was going to be in this position", Finau said on ESPN after his round.

British Amateur champion Harry Ellis had a much tougher time.

Finau was running backwards in an enthusiastic celebration of a hole-in-one on the seventh during the par-three contest on Wednesday when his left ankle buckled underneath him. His victory the following year established him as a star, but he suffered a shocking defeat in 2016.

He's played 17 career rounds at Augusta National _ shooting in the 60s six times.

Rory McIlroy, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Henrik Stenson had solid opening 69s to join a group of four other players on three-under, one of them American Patrick Reed.

Fourteen-time Major victor Tiger Woods, who last competed at Augusta in 2015, struck birdies in two of his last five holes to post a one-over 73, ending the day a stroke behind world No1 Dustin Johnson.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia made history - not the good kind - in the opening round of the Masters on Thursday. A generation ago, he had a chance to become the first player to hold all four professional majors, and he heard all about it for more than seven months leading into the Masters.