From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Believe the hype: Thursday’s first round at Augusta National was one for the ages

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You want to know how impressive Thursday’s opening round of the Masters was? Here’s a conversation I had with a colleague of mine in the office after Tiger made the turn in 33 (3-under) after eagling 8 and making birdie on number 9.

Me: Can you believe what we’re witnessing here?
Co-worker: *Silence*
Me: Hey, did you hear what I said? Can you believe the shots Tiger’s hitting in this opening round? It’s like he never left the game.
Co-worker: *Stunned Silence*

I want you to take what you thought was the best case scenario for Tiger Woods and the 2010 Masters tournament and multiply that scenario by ten-trillion. Seriously, the first round was that freaking impressive.

And we’re not just talking about Tiger Woods’ performance on Thursday — a round that, quite honestly, was one of the best opening rounds I’ve ever seen him play. After walking to tee to a sea of well-wishers (the crowd had to be at least 20 or 30 deep), Woods stepped, took a deep breath, and unleashed a laser that split the center of the fairway. The crowd roared as Woods twirled his club and started his walk down the middle.

Even ridiculous banners in the sky couldn’t stop the Woods Express on Thursday, as he continued to shock and amaze the ANGC patrons.

An absolute rope of a golf shot on 9, that led to a miraculous birdie, pretty much summer up his round; Tiger was back, and there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it. Throw in a birdie on the 12th (a hole he hadn’t birdied since the third round in 2005) and a another eagle on 15, and what do you have? A 4-under 68 that has Woods only two-shots off the lead.

Mind you, this is the same Tiger Woods who’s known for starting slow at the Masters. Oh yeah, did I mention this was his first under-par round on Thursday at Augusta National? His record-setting tournament score in 1997 didn’t event include a red number on Thursday. Woods was clinical, simple as that.

But Woods wasn’t the only big name on the leaderboard. On a day where red numbers were the norm, some of the biggest names in the game were taking advantage of the scoring conditions. Freddy Couples, a guy who looked at home on the Champions Tour, is the current leader at six-under. Tom Watson, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Y.E. Yang and K.J. Choi all sit one back at five-under, making the top of the board a regular who’s who of major champions.

Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter, Anthony Kim and Nick Watney sit two back at four-under. To say the leaderboard is stacked would be an understatement. If Tiger Woods was the biggest story on Thursday, then the star power at Augusta has to be story 1-A.

For a tournament that’s known to produce a couple of random names at the top of the board on Thursday, the first round of 2010 proved that the cream was going to rise to the top from the start. And trust me, it was a welcomed sight to see. I’ve seen a lot of golf in my 26 years on this earth, but I’ve never seen a first round of a major championship that had so much drama and intrigue.

Thursday’s first round was like a prize-fight that gets built up before the boxers ever get in the ring. When the main event happens, the fight can go one of two ways; it can live up to the hype, or it can fail to impress. The first round of the Masters was definitely the former on Thursday.

Let’s just hope it’s a sign of things to come for the rest of the week.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

04/08/2010 at 10:27 pm

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