Tiger Woods passed his first test at the 86th Masters tournament with flying colors.
In his first competitive round since the 2020 November Masters, and less than 14 months after a near-fatal car accident, Woods put together an impressive round of 1-under-par 71 on Thursday to begin Friday’s second round just four shots off the lead.
Woods is in a group with South African Louis Oosthuizen and Chilean Joaquin Niemann and is scheduled to tee off at 1:41 p.m. ET.
Sungjae Im of South Korea set the pace on Thursday by firing a 5-under-par 67. Australian Cameron Smith is alone in second place, one stroke back.
However, all eyes were on Woods and his return to action on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Now, the question is whether the five-time Masters champion can continue his momentum into Round 2, and make the cut.
What is the cut line at the Masters?
All eyes will be on the leaderboard as the top 50 and ties make the cut at the Masters. According to the PGA Tour’s DataGolf analysis, the cutline was projected at 2-over. After the first round, there were 59 players at +2 or better (T43).
Last year, Dustin Johnson failed to make the cut (74-75) after winning the Masters with a record 20-under-par in November 2020.
Ch- ch- changes
Don’t be fooled by the clear, sunny skies. The weather is going to make quite an impact on the second round of the Masters.
Wind gusts of between 20 and 30 mph are expected this afternoon at Augusta National. That will affect the flight of the ball, of course, but also make it tough to judge distance. A 180-yard shot plays a lot different when the wind is howling.
The fairways and greens are also going to dry out, making them firmer and faster. Experience is always at a premium at the Masters, but these kind of weather conditions will only make it more imperative.
“Sometimes, especially around here, it’s really hard to get a beat on if you get a lot of crosswinds. Is it helping a little bit, or is it hurting a little bit?” Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Masters champion, said after finishing his round Thursday. “Which makes a big difference around here because you really need to be spot on with your distances and iron shots.”
Brennan: Woods has magical moments in Masters return
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Something was in the air, a murmur at first, a rush of sound far away from the first tee, growing louder by the second. Hundreds of heads turned. The galleries were as large as they could ever be at Augusta National, packed 20-25 deep, waiting for one person: Tiger Woods.
Less than 14 months earlier, he crashed his SUV and thought he might lose his right leg or never walk again. Now, here he was, striding confidently, albeit with a persistent limp, in front of a massive Thursday morning audience to begin his first official round of golf since he last teed off here in the November 2020 Masters.
The 46-year-old Woods, who a year ago was in the midst of spending three consecutive months in a hospital bed, was on his way to a magnificent opening round at the Masters, breaking par, finishing at one-under 71.
There was only one conclusion to draw from this remarkable sports moment: Tiger is just so good at this and cares so much about it that he can do it, and do it very well, on a rebuilt right leg.
— Christine Brennan
Tiger scrambles to 1-under 71, sits just four shots off the lead
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods began his 2022 Masters campaign with a 1-under 71 on Thursday, aided by countless par saves, including his final putt from 10 feet on the 18th green.
In his first competitive round of golf since the horrific single-car accident that nearly cost him his right leg, Woods looked comfortable as he methodically worked his way around Augusta National, only grimacing once after yanking his tee shot into the trees on No. 9.
Woods made birdies on Nos. 6, 13 and 16, where he let out the first fist pump of the day on the par 3 after canning a 30-footer. His two bogeys came at the par-5 8th and par-4 14th. The 15-time major champion hit just half of his fairways and greens and still managed to score under par.
— Adam Woodard, Golfweek
Armour: Woods’ knowledge of Augusta a huge advantage
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Gratifying as it was for Tiger Woods to hear that familiar roar as he walked up to the 18th green, it had to have scared the bejeezus out of Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith and everyone else on the leaderboard.
Give the 15-time major champion an opportunity, especially at Augusta National, and odds are pretty good he’ll make you regret it.
Woods is lurking after his first round of the Masters. Credit him, certainly. He made impressive par saves on Nos. 1, 9 and 18, as well as a nice up-and-down on 11, to finish the day at 1-under.
But those ahead of him opened the door for Woods, too. Im had a chance to get to 6 under, but his shot out of a greenside bunker on 18 hit the back of the cup and caromed off. Smith double-bogeyed 18, going from 6 under for the day to 4.
— Nancy Armour