Tiger bad, but he's still in it somehow

Updated: 2012-04-07 07:45

(China Daily)

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Tiger Woods followed his first victory in 28 months with some of the worst tee shots of his career, struggling to a level-par 72 after the opening round of the 76th Masters on Thursday.

Snap-hooking drives into the pine trees at Augusta National with alarming regularity, Woods stunningly salvaged pars on the first two holes only to suffer a bogey-bogey finish to plunge off the leaderboard.

"I hit some of the worst golf shots I have ever hit out there," Woods said. "I just grinded my way around the course, stayed patient, whatever it took. I just wanted to keep going out there."

The 14-time major champion, chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, seeks a fifth Masters title and 73rd US PGA crown in his first event since ending a win drought that started with his infamous sex scandal.

"I could have probably maybe got one, maybe two more (shots) out of that but that was about it," Woods said. "I squeezed a lot out of that round. Didn't hit it very good at all."

But Woods took heart from the fact no rival pulled too far ahead of the pack.

"This course is playing too difficult to go super-low on," Woods said. "No one was tearing it up."

Woods captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month at Bay Hill and seemed to signal a return to form, but admitted that old mistakes were creeping back into his swing during the round.

"Old (swing) patterns. Just old patterns," Woods said. "Some of my old stuff from a few years ago. I have had to work through it and today it popped up. Now I'm struggling with it all the way around with all the clubs."

Woods, who has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open and has not won the Masters since 2005, could match Nicklaus for second on the US PGA all-time win list at 73, nine shy of the record 82 won by Sam Snead.

Agence France-Presse In Augusta, Georgia

(China Daily 04/07/2012 page16)