Day One at the 77th Masters
I predicted that if Tiger Woods was leading, or no less than three back of the leader on the first day, this could very well be his 15th major championship, placing him only three behind the “California Golden Bear”, Jack Nicklaus.
It wasn’t Tiger’s day. His short irons, which were nearly perfect two weeks ago, were off their mark. And his putting was not up to the standard of his last tournament, which he won.
He was bogey free until the 13th, three under par, and three off the leader who was in the clubhouse, but couldn’t get up and down. He dropped a stroke. He made par on the 14th. The par-five 15th, found him missing a five foot putt for a birdie. He was very frustrated.
He made no errors on 16 and 17, and had one last chance to get back to three under par.
Augusta was designed by Bobby Jones. He loved St. Andrews in Scotland because it was a “second shot” course. Although it is a lush course, the opposite of St. Andrews, the shot to the green will win or lose this tournament.
Two weeks ago Tiger dropped his second shots within ten feet of the cup frequently. He averaged somewhere in the range of 25 feet away from the hole on Thursday. He finished his day with a par on the 18th, and a round of 70 for the day.
In his post-game interview, he said, “I thought I played solid”. He was pleased with his putting overall, but said that he left his second shots too far away, and did not give himself a chance for many birdies. He finished; “We’ve got a long way to go”.
He was 4 shots back of Marc Leishman. Threesomes playing behind him had Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Ricky Fowler, and Rory McIlroy, all playing excellent golf on a perfect day for scoring low numbers.
Sergio finished the front nine in 32, four under at the turn. By the time Tiger had finished, he was 5 under par, only 1 stroke off the lead.
The day ended with a two way tie for first place at minus 6. Leishman and Garcia, are at the top of the leaderboard.
A heavy storm is expected this evening. Course conditions will change of the tomorrow’s second round. In addition, the winds are expected to pick up.
The most pleasant memory of the first day of the 2013 Masters will be when the oldest player in the tournament, and the youngest, reached the 18th green. Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China, sank a 20 foot putt for a birdie, to end his day at 73, one over par. Ben Crenshaw, age 61, and a two-time Masters winner, sank a 10 footer for birdie as well. Tianlang is the youngest person ever to play in the Masters.
So, if Tiger is 4 back instead of 3, what does that mean? Listening to him after his round, he seems confident.
Tomorrow will tell the tale. Even a small charge by Woods might indicate that he is not only determined to win, but has no doubt that he will be in the final pairing on Sunday.
Columnist-The Guardian Express