Masters braced for Tiger-mania as Early round gets Expired

Defending Masters champion Garcia shoots 13 on 15th hole

But on five straight shots, Garcia's ball landed in the water.

Elder statesman status is all very well, but 14-time major champion Tiger Woods hasn't battled back from four back surgeries just to make up the numbers at the Masters.

Tiger-mania swept over the U.S. Masters on Thursday as the year's first major took on a rock concert vibe with Tiger Woods once again the headline act at Augusta National as first round play got underway. "He's got the shot-making and he's already hit all these great shots for so many years that I would think it would be easier to get it back than to find it for the first time".

Woods, who said it was only after playing an exhibition last December that he felt he would be able to compete in the year's first major, has since shown flashes of the form that helped him earn a staggering 79 PGA Tour wins.

However, Woods bogeyed the fourth and fifth after finding sand off the tee on both occasions and missed good birdie chances on the sixth and eighth to remain one over par.

The 28-year-old then appeared to pop the dislocated ankle back into place, before later undergoing X-rays and an MRI scan, which thankfully revealed a high ankle sprain but no significant damage.

Six-time champion Nicklaus and three-time victor Gary Player officially launched the proceedings with the ceremonial opening shots.

"Tiger Woods heads out in the second most successful hour for opening round tee times in terms of cuts made, while Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy are out in the final hour which is statistically one of the better times to go off".




So was Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this week.

The trio will be followed to the tee by another hot favorite, world number two Justin Thomas, and reigning champion Sergio Garcia of Spain.

Former champion Vijay Singh was the surprise early pacesetter as Tiger Woods got his first competitive round at the Masters since 2015 under way.

But one of Woods' playing partners Leishman was proving an exception and he was level with Singh - the 2000 champion - at three under par, one shot clear of Henrik Stenson. "Those are some really dark, dark times", said Woods.

Woods opted for the driver on the par-five second and smashed a flawless tee shot over 350 yards, but pushed his approach into a greenside bunker and was unable to get up down for birdie.

Mickelson could become the oldest player to win the Masters, supplanting Jack Nicklaus who was 46 when he won in 1986.

With the formalities out of the way, American Austin Cook got the tournament proper under way, with compatriots Ted Potter and Wesley Bryan making up the first group.

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