AUGUSTA, Ga. -- How Tiger Woods' latest comeback would play out was the biggest story line entering Thursday. Although it's way too early to make a final judgement on that, it only took two holes to show the fans would at least find his presence at the year's first major exciting.
Woods emerged from Augusta National's clubhouse eight minutes before his 1:48 tee time to cheers from a rowdy crowd and headed to the practice green.
"Go, Tiger! Woo!" a man with a stack of beer cups screamed.
"You're my boy, Tiger!" a man with a taller stack of beer cups yelled.
Focus then shifted to how Woods looked.
"He is wiry," a patron observed.
"He's so skinny," another fan chimed in. "He used to be huge."
Tiger's putting was next to take center stage. He dropped two balls down from about 30 feet and . . . three-putted both. Groans. Guys, this is the practice green!
After another miss, Tiger struck a fourth long attempt.
"Look at that thing running. . . drained it! Woo!" Love the enthusiasm, but again, this is practice.
OK, then it was time to go to the first tee. Big applause and also some small wagering.
"OK, you've got the right tree line, I've got $5 on him hitting the fairway."
The guy who bet the right tree line won.
Woods found the green with his second shot, though, and faced a lengthy birdie attempt, only to come up way short.
"That's not good." Nope. Neither was the par attempt. Hmm, maybe those initial practice putts were an omen after all.
An opening bogey left patrons a bit deflated, but it didn't stop people like NFL Hall of Famer Chris Carter from scrambling to get in position to see Tiger's tee shot on No. 2. Woods found the fairway, but on the left side and well back. He tried snap hooking a fairway wood, only it didn't snap as much as he wanted, putting a scare into the gallery.
He ended up taking a free drop on the crosswalk about 115 yards from the green. Then, he hoisted a wedge that stuck about four feet from a back-left pin position.
"He's still got it!" one man crowed.
"That's what I'm used to seeing!" added his buddy.
After his playing partners both missed their birdie attempts, Woods settled in for another ticklish putt, but this time, he made it. You can probably guess the reaction to that.
"He's back! Yeah! Give him the green jacket!"
Eh, we should probably give it at least another two holes.