News & ToursApril 10, 2008

Soltau: Woods Not Too Bummed After a 72

AUGUSTA, Ga. -â¿¿ For the 14th consecutive year, Tiger Woods didn't break 70 in the first round of the Masters Tournament. He also failed to make a birdie Thursday for only the second time at hot and steamy Augusta National Golf Club.

But if you're expecting Woods to be down after an even-par 72, think again. He has won this event four times, and only trails co-leaders Justin Rose and Trevor Immelman by four shots.

"I'm just going to go relax," a composed and smiling Woods said afterward. "I'm going to hit a few putts, but I feel good about how I played all day. I hit the ball really well. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn't go in. That's just the way it goes. I've just got to stay patient out there and hopefully it will turn."

Woods hit 13 greens in regulation and used 29 putts. The longest putt he made was a 10-footer for par on the first green.

He didn't get the best bounces, either, especially the carom off the bleachers behind the par-5 eighth green that negated a likely birdie. Then a "sweet" 4-iron second shot from 214 yards into the wind at the par-5 13th rolled through the green and stopped in a nearly impossible spot, resulting in his first bogey after 12 straight pars.

"It was the hardest pitch you could possibly have on this golf course," he said. "Sitting a little sandy, into the grain, downhill. Stevie (Williams) and I were talking about it, and in hindsight we should have just--I thought I was pitching good enough to hit that shot, but we were just saying just putt it down there and have a 30- for 40-footer coming back up the hill. I said, I'm pitching good, I can pull this off; I can keep it on the top shelf. It just didn't happen."

An errant drive at 14 led to another bogey, then Woods regrouped. At the par-5 15th, he flagged his second shot, but couldn't hold the putting surface. Prior to his round, Woods holed two chip shots in the practice area. He did it again, this time for a much-needed eagle.

"I kept myself in the tournament, I'm right there," said Woods.

--Mark Soltau

More from The Loop