Slow start for Tiger Woods, Leishman takes early Masters lead

by Garry Watts April 6, 2018, 1:57
Slow start for Tiger Woods, Leishman takes early Masters lead

Mike Stachura, Golf Digest: "The victor of the Masters this year will be a familiar face".

Nevertheless, Augusta National - as it does with so many other aspects of a golf tournament - handles it better than any other club out there. He has played and won against the best in the world, but not lately.

That's good news for 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett who heads out at 9.58am, while returning former world number one Tiger Woods has been handed an opening round time of 10.42am. Three-time champion Phil Mickelson has a realistic opportunity for another Green Jacket, as well, after breaking a almost five-year winless streak with a WGC-Mexico Championship a month ago.

"I play well here", said McIlroy. "So let's just kind of slow down".

Jason Day was enduring a nightmare start at four over through seven, while US PGA Championship victor Justin Thomas - having birdied the second - was one over through nine. TV, whose ratings will soar, wants him to stay in contention until the back nine Sunday, win or lose. And hopefully, I end up on top.

"I get asked about it every day out here on the range or walking down the fairway", Johnson said.

The crowds will be in for a full day of drama, with numerous late starters also expected to mount Masters challenges.

"It was pretty awesome", Couples said.

"It's gotten to the point where I don't know the new guys", Burke, the 1956 Masters victor, told The Augusta Chronicle previous year at Champions Club outside Houston.

Woods was not sharp in this first round.

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He doesn't know of anyone who has competed at the highest level since fusion surgery on the lumbar area of the back, much less anyone who could generate 129 miles per hour of club speed with the driver.

Playing as the second-easiest hole of the day, Garcia's 13 was one of just 4 scores of double bogey or worse with several groups still on the course. It was one of the lower moments in his life.

The four-time Masters champion is far from concerned.

In addition to this being Garcia's first Champions Dinner, it was also the inaugural feast for Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley. Matt Parziale found out he landed an invitation this past Christmas after he won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in the fall.

Number 4, Jason Day- he has had some success at Augusta with a strong runner-up finish in 2011, but it's always something with Jason Day...injuries, vertigo, personal problems etc. Lots of drama which doesn't foretell winning a major like the Masters. Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic.

It was Woods' first competitive birdie at the famed course since April 12, 2015, at No. 15 in the final round of the Masters. "I wanted everyone to know how much this meant to me". His first crack at the career slam was in 2015. He's broken par in each of his past 10 rounds.

"I haven't seen a crowd like this here in 20 years", one man in the gallery said. "I know it's true, but damn, I don't have any other redeemable skills". Or maybe it doesn't matter.

But this week may prove to be a unique challenge for Tiger Tracker given Augusta National's strict policy on mobile phones.

Tiger Tracker said the job pays "enough to put food on the table and beverages in my belly" and that the hardest part is an unrelenting pressure to be awesome, which he adds "isn't that challenging when it comes so easily". I enjoy playing the golf course. If I'm under the radar or not, it doesn't matter.

"The addition of Tiger being healthy and playing well", Spieth said, "no matter what else happened, was probably going to make it as anticipated as any going back five, six, seven years".

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