Tiger Woods 1 under at Masters but faces 23-hole test Friday

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods survived the swirling winds of Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday, but the five-time Masters champion’s biggest test is probably coming Friday.

After inclement weather delayed the start of the 88th Masters, Woods was able to complete 13 holes at 1 under before play was suspended at 7:51 p.m. ET because of darkness. The 15-time major champion, who hasn’t completed an official PGA Tour event since he returned from ankle surgery in April 2023, will have to play 23 holes Friday.

Woods, 48, will play the final five holes of the first round when it resumes at 7:50 a.m. The second round is scheduled to begin at 8. Woods, Jason Day and Max Homa are slated to tee off at 10:18.

Woods said he hopes he won’t have to wait long between rounds.

“Well, it was nice to finish up 13,” he said. “We’re going to warm up and just kind of head down there and start our round. I think the flow would be pretty much almost like between 20 and 30 minutes in between rounds, so it’ll be a natural flow from the finish of the first round and continuation of the second.”

Over the past couple of years, Woods has talked often about the physical therapy, massages and ice baths that are required before and after rounds to get him ready to compete.

Through 13 holes, Woods walked much better than he did at the 2023 Masters, when he was forced to withdraw before the weather-delayed third round resumed because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He had ankle surgery 10 days later.

“The body is OK,” Woods said Thursday. “We’ve got some work to do yet tonight.”

All in all, it was a good day for Woods, who had played only 24 holes in a PGA Tour event before the Masters. He was forced to withdraw during the second round of the Genesis Invitational in mid-February because of the flu.

Woods had a birdie on No. 1 — his first on the opening hole in the opening round at Augusta National since 1999 — and added one more on the par-5 eighth hole to stand at 6 strokes behind leader Bryson DeChambeau, who carded a 7-under 65.

“The wind was all over the place,” Woods said. “It was one of the most tricky days that I’ve ever been a part of. It was hard to get a [bead] not only on what direction it was going, but the intensity, and it kept switching all over the place, and then the timing was affecting putts on the greens. It was a very difficult day.”

Woods had plenty of distance off the tee with six shots of 300 yards or longer, including a 334-yard drive on the par-4 third hole.

After his opening birdie, Woods pulled his tee shot into the trees down the left side of the No. 2 fairway. His ball settled at the base of a tree with low branches. The only thing Woods could do was pitch his second shot left-handed — he punched his ball about 60 yards back into the fairway. Woods’ third shot missed the green, but he was able to chip to about 5 feet. He made the putt to save par.

Woods carded his only bogey on the par-3 fourth hole. He hit his tee shot over the green and then chipped the ball 22 yards past the hole. He needed two putts from there to drop back to even par.

Woods’ second birdie on the par-5 eighth came after he hit a 324-yard drive over a fairway bunker down the right side. Left with 242 yards to the pin, he blistered a 3-iron shot to 41 feet. He missed the long eagle putt and made birdie to get back to 1 under.

Given how little competitive golf Woods has played over the past three years since he was seriously injured in a car wreck outside Los Angeles in February 2021, his work around the greens was impressive.

Some of Woods’ best work came at the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, known as Amen Corner and one of the most famous stretches in golf. On the par-4, 520-yard 11th, Woods’ approach shot was 26 yards short of the hole. He chipped to a foot and tapped in the putt for par.

With winds swirling on the par-3 12th, Woods hit his tee shot long and his ball landed 19 yards above the hole in pine straw. He chipped his ball down the green and it settled 6 feet from the cup. He made the putt to save par.

On the par-5 13th, Woods hit his drive into trees down the right side of the sweeping dogleg left hole. He was forced to execute a tricky punch shot out of the trees and back into the fairway. He knocked his third shot to 22 feet and two-putted for par.

First appeared on www.espn.com

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