It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the first tee shot at the Masters on Tiger Woods psyche.
“I promise you he has been thinking about that tee shot since he got to Augusta National,” said John Cook, a close friend of Woods’.
“He has had trouble with that first tee shot.”
Last year, Woods hit a snap hook off that tee, then another on the second hole, and his body language said his Masters run was already over. He never recovered, going home in a tie for 40th, his worst ever finish at the year’s first major.
So despite the three wins this season and the fact that he’s regained the No. 1 world ranking and came to Augusta as the favorite, there was an overcast Thursday as Woods stepped to the tee. Now I don’t want to hear, oh he was using some new clubs, that doesn’t matter. Golfers love using new clubs, they’re not hard to get used to. The real trouble is using a new golf ball, but that may or may not be the issue with how Tigers game went.
Woods selected not his driver on the long, uphill par 4, but a new 3 wood that he’d just put in his bag. The choice paid off, no surprise as I said a lame excuse for people to use, as he smoked one down the middle, clipping Luke Donald’s driver by at least 25 yards. Scott Piercy, one of the longer hitters in the game, was perhaps only 20 yards beyond Woods. From there, Woods hit a short iron about 15 feet beneath the hole. His putting has been spot on this year which is critical given that putting is what has kept him from winning at Augusta since 2005. Sadly, Woods hit a tentative putt that never had a chance of falling.
It seemed like Tigers mind was starting to deflate. The awful second shot into the second wasn’t much better and that left him to scramble for a par 5 on what is really a birdie hole. He needed to recover on the third after bouncing his tee shot into a fan, causing him to spill his beer. Which is hilarious.
By the sixth, though, Woods stopped playing beer pong and started playing golf. His spirit almost seemed lifted by the great plays. He finished with a 2-under-par round of 70, which he’d later call “a good day, a solid day.”
My main issue with Tiger was the fact that ESPN did not air the Masters until 3:00 and Tiger was done by then. I didn’t even get to see Tiger play, depressing. Great scheduling there, fantastic. Anyone else upset they didn’t get to watch Tiger golf? Tiger you gotta pick up your game if you expect to win, you weren’t too great this round.