Woods fine on his own with father at home
AUGUSTA, Georgia, Apr 7 (Reuters) Tiger Woods was on his own at the US Masters and did just fine battling his way to an opening round even par 72, five off the early leader Vijay Singh, at a sun-kissed Augusta Golf Club.
For the first time in 12 Masters, Woods did not have his ailing father Earl in Augusta yesterday to offer him support and guidance and on a few occasions appeared lost as he made his way around the muscled up 7,445 yard layout.
As Masters week began it was uncertain if Woods would be at the first tee yesterday with his father back in California battling cancer.
Having jetted home on the eve of the Players' Championship to check on his father, Woods did not rule out the possibility of doing the same at the Masters if he was needed in California.
The world number one's renowned powers of concentration were put to the supreme test yesterday, as he pushed concern for his father to the back of his mind for a few hours and focused on tackling a course stretched to the second longest in major championship history.
Despite having claimed three Masters titles in the last five years, the course and conditions were as unfamiliar to Woods as they were to the rest of the field after four years of alterations and rainy weather.
''I thought at the beginning of the day there might be two scores in the 60s,'' said Woods, who has three wins in seven starts this season. ''The golf course is playing really difficult. It's fast now.
''We haven't played it like this for a while where it's been dry like this. It was quick and dry and they greens are picking up speed.'' Chasing a fifth US Masters, Woods moved to one under by spectacularly holing an eight-iron from the fairway for an eagle-two at the 14th.
However, he then ran up a double-bogey seven on 15, where he found water with his approach, before finishing in style with a 35-foot birdie putt at the last.
''I thought I played really well,'' the 10-times major winner said. ''I hit a bunch of good golf shots and I had two bad breaks. I got a mud ball on 10 and ended up in a divot on 15.
''I thought I could have got in under par but it didn't happen. Still, I'm in good shape. Better than it was last year.'' Reuters PG VP0438