Tiger battles through with clutch shots in Masters return


Only a year ago, Woods said he had trouble just sitting through the dinner at the Masters Club of past champions because of pain from his lower back shooting down his legs.

Jordan Spieth is in the driver's seat at the 2018 Masters Tournament after a run of five straight birdies helped him finish the first round with a score of 66. 13-17. Would he close the round with a sixth straight? He'd bogey the 18th to slip back to six under par and a two shot lead, but even that was a a good bogey after pulling his drive into the trees.

What got him going? "I could barely put any pressure on it, could barely walk, " Finau said.

The horror story of the day was penned by Garcia, who watched five balls splash into the pond guarding the 15th green. What, you thought he was responsible?

"I hit the ball better than my score indicates", the 14-time major victor said after the round, per Jason Sobel of Action Network. Garcia came to the 15th tee at 2-over-par, but hit five consecutive shots into the pond that fronts the putting surface by landing them on the sloped green and watching as his ball rolled back into the water.

"The ball just wouldn't stop", he said. His second shot at the first hole ended up in a spectator's beer cup.

Another Australian, Queenslander Cameron Smith is also in the mix after a solid opening 71, but Jason Day struggled to an opening 75, three-over par, after making four bogeys in his first seven holes and Adam Scott, the 2013 victor, birdied the final hole for a 75.

- Tony Finau called it nothing short of a miracle, and we will not disagree.

For those who didn't see it - don't. He started running toward the hole to celebrate, then turned and backpedaled before landing awkwardly on his left ankle. "Otherwise it's just short right of the green, an easy up and down from there, where I was trying to leave it". It's a safe bet that Finau is the only player in the field who had an MRI before going to the course Thursday. The tweet was in relation ti Sergio and wide Angela naming their firstborn Azalea after the name given to the 13th hole at Augusta National.

He struggled on the par-5s, which are normally his bread and butter at Augusta, and that kept him from taking his score into negative numbers. "We were anticipating getting it back to even par, just fighting out way back to even par, " he said."I didn't play either par-5 well".

This year's opening round for Woods, a 73, could have been a lot worse considering how he hit it at times. He's still well in contention, seven shots behind Spieth. In his 20 previous first rounds here, Woods broke 70 only once.

Tiger Woods with a 74 in 2005 was the last man to don a Green Jacket after starting poorly.

Mickelson recovered from a slow start to keep alive his hopes of a fourth Green Jacket.

Aside from popping Ibuprofen at the turn, there was little physical evidence Woods had lower-back fusion surgery less than a year ago and had been away from golf for almost four years. "There's no wind. Go tear it up".

Refreshed by an early-morning game of tennis with his wife and sons, Kuchar also had his irons on target and made his five birdies on the second nine on putts of 10 feet or less - including a shot to within one pace at the par-3 16th to set up a tap-in birdie and a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 18.