Once Tiger Woods takes center stage at 1:48 p.m. ET at Augusta National, fans will flock to the first hole to watch the four-time Masters champion begin his first round.
Woods, who’s made 18 cuts in 20 career starts at Augusta over the course of his career, is seeking his first major victory in five years and first at the Masters since 2005. The belief is Woods only needs one incredible weekend to get his career back on track after five years of wilting on the biggest stages that he used to dominate.
Perhaps no other course represents Woods’ best chances of ending his majors drought. While he hasn’t donned the green jacket in 10 years, Woods still finished no lower than fourth on three different occasions since 2010. In two of those years, Woods shot both excellent scores of 10 and 11 under. Not to mention the torrid stretch of first, third, back-to-back second, and sixth place finishes from 2005 to 2009.
Woods' deep and storied history at Augusta can’t be overlooked, and it’s a storyline many will follow throughout the weekend. Woods claimed the first of his career 14 majors at Augusta in 1997, and completing that circle nearly 20 years later is the type of confidence boost he could use after injuries and a diminishing short-game have wiped away some of his luster.
How well Woods performs in the first round will obviously carry over into his play throughout the weekend and if he can make the cut after Friday’s second round.
Thus, we’ll have up-to-the-minute recaps of Woods’ play at each hole at Augusta below.
American Charley Hoffman has captured the early lead at 5-under after nailing an eagle on the par-5 15th hole, and the rest of the leaderboard can be found here.
For Woods' second-round play-by-play, check out here
Woods’ first stroke of the tournament wound up to the right of the bunker of the par-4, 445-yard hole. He grimaced immediately after his swing, recognizing he didn’t get hold of it well. But his next shot lands firmly on the green, avoiding the hill to the front right. A long putt is next, but if he makes par Woods is in good shape so far.
A two-putt opportunity turns into a three-putt bogey on the opening hole. Now one-over to start.
Tough to make that stroke on a par-5, 575-yard second hole. A long and wide fairway is helpful, but second shot is key with bunkers in front of the green. Off the tee Woods hints to the left, but not far enough so he lays up to make the approach shot easier. Woods then gets to within four feet of the cup with a wedge shot with a birdie in mind.
Woods sinks the putt for birdie, making up for first hole and now at even after two.
Woods hasn’t shown consistency on his drives yet, which is dangerous on a par-4, 350-yard third hole with bunkers to the left of the green and the fairway sloping. He avoids the left side of the green completely with a clean drive to the right just short of the bunker, making a second-straight birdie possible.
A slim chip in for eagle is dashed as Woods missed the cup short by about 20 feet. He misses the birdie putt, and another light tap in for par. Still even after three.
A 240-yard, par-3 is next, with the cup towards the front of the green. At such a short hole it’s possible the tee shot goes too far back for fear of landing in bunker in front of the green.
The tee shot lands in the bunker up front, with second shot very difficult given the angle. Second shot isn't much better and Woods is stuck near the back of the green. A poor, too-long putt risks sliding back to the front of or out of the green. After a chip, Woods is then forced to save bogey with a five-foot putt. One-over.
Now in rough shape heading into a par-4, 455-yard hole with a left-sloping fairway, and two huge bunkers on the left of a slight dogleg. Tee shot again goes left, but it’s in front of those bunkers, allowing for an excellent second shot that puts him in position for a long birdie or stronger chance at par.
Because of the rightward sloping green, Woods first putt is just short. He two-putts to remain at one-over.
Another short par-3 at 180 yards and from an elevated position, Woods has to avoid the front bunker with a tee shot to the right, and hope the bump inside the right of the green gives him a friendly bounce and roll for an easier shot at birdie to get out of the early hole.
Off the tee Woods avoids the bunker and again faces a long putt for birdie. Looking frustrated, and rightly so, as the shot's off the green, but it could've been in the trees. Considering he starts off the green, Woods opts to putt and its a solid shot, about three or four feet away from the cup.
Another short putt to stay at one-over.
A straight fairway with trees lining both sides, Woods’ second shot is again key here, with bunkers peppering the outside of the elevated green. First shot is just off the fairway to the left, setting up for a second shot that will have to avoid some trees.
Woods strikes an incredible shot with a tree directly in front of him, powering the ball right on top of the green for a solid chance at birdie.
Real opportunity for birdie from 20 feet out squandered with another putt coming up short. Woods knocks in his fourth straight par and still is at one-over.
Another elevated hole but a 570-yard par-5, Woods has to find some accuracy on his drive and avoid the right bunker, then on the second shot put himself in position to avoid the huge mounds surrounding the green.
And Woods strikes it well off the tee, staying on the fairway to the left, with 269 yards left and a clear view to the pin.
Second shot goes over the top of the trees and ends up at the feat of fans behind the green. Woods’ back seems just fine, and he’s warming up. The power’s there, but needs that short-game precision. He's roughly 14 yards from the pin, with birdie in mind.
Woods gets some relief from the officials, and his third shot guns a fast chip on to the green with five feet left to the cup. He sinks the putt for his second birdie of the day and is back to even.
Woods now wraps up the front nine at the 460-yard, par-4, and wind picking up significantly. The majority of the green is flat, but the way to it is treacherous with lots of dips to avoid on the approach.
Worst swing of the day for Woods as he slices it right and now has trees standing in the way of his approach to the green. Again with an aggressive approach, Woods tries to go over the trees, but it lands in the forest with lots of trouble abounding now.
Making the most of a bad situation, Woods finds the back of the green with a line drive, but he's 48 feet from the pin. Woods short game coming around, as his first putt comes very close, about a foot from the cup, but he’s got his third bogey and is back to one-over.
The back-nine starts with a 495-yard par-4 that’s one of the toughest on the course with a 60-yard-long bunker standing in the way of the green. Woods tees off much better with a solid strike down the heart of the fairway, preparing for what should be a layup over the massive bunker.
The wind gets hold of Woods’ approach shot as he avoids the big bunker, but lands in the smaller bunker to the front right side of the green. Chip likely on the way from nine yards out.
Woods chips out of the sand to within three or four feet of the hole, trying to save par. And par is saved, still at one-over.
Woods enters Amen Corner, starting with a 505-yard par 4. He’s staring at a left-to-right sloping fairway with the drink to the left of the green and bunker to the right.
He nails the tee shot 320 yards down the fairway amidst cheers, but approach shot and staying out of the pond is crucial at this point. Woods sails his shot over and past the green to the right. He avoids the bunker but now has to hit over it to get to the green, with par the only realistic option again.
The chip takes some nice bounces and looks in line to sail in the cup, but lands past it by about four feet. He makes par again, and no change in score at one-over 45.
The shortest par-3 on the course at 155 yards, Woods can make up some ground here but has a nasty creek and wide bunker to avoid in front of the green.
Using the 8-iron, Woods levitates his shot wide left and it bounces and rolls before the green into the creek. Major turn of events, Woods looks despondent. Woods then drops the ball at his desired angle, and strikes an excellent chip two feet from the cup to likely stop bleeding at bogey and at two-over.
The end of Amen Corner is a 510-yard par-5, but Woods has excelled at the longer holes so far. He’ll need a straight tee shot, and faces the tough choice of either going for the green on the second or laying up so as to avoid the water in front of the greent for the second straight hole.
A 301-yard drive lands in the rough, but Woods cuts off the corner and has a straight look at the green if he wants it. Woods' gambles pays off sort of, he blasts the second shot over the creek but also well over the green. He's on the edge of the green, 23 yards from the pin.
Third impressive chip on the day for Woods, he’s on the green and has a reasonable eight-foot putt for a possible third birdie on a par-5 in this first round. He sinks it to climb back to one-over.
A hole known for its Jekyll and Hyde green, with one side flat and the other a huge slope, the 440-yard par-4 could be trouble, but Woods’ short game has been pretty solid all day.
Dead center down the fairway off the tee. A play to the back of the green seems like the strategy next. From 165 yards out, Woods curses to himself after sailing the second shot to the back of the green and 41 feet from the cup. He plays the first putt short, getting three feet away from the cup and avoiding the green’s huge drop-off. He makes par, and now score change.
Par-5s have been Woods’ specialty, but he risks tasting the pond like he did on No. 12. It’s a 530-yard hole with the pond in front of the green and bunkers guarding it as well.
Tee shot completely misfires and eventually rests in the rough, with tree line again in Woods’ purview before the green. Woods plays it safe, again finding a nice angle past the trees and is still in place for a fourth birdie on the par-5s.
At 116 yards from the pin, Woods fires and barely gets over the water to the edge of the rough before the green. Par now looking likely. Excellent chip from Woods places ball four feet past the cup for likely eighth par of the round.
He’s done it, and holds at one-over with three holes left.
Cue highlights from Woods’ famous chip shot at this hole in 2005 when he last won it all. It’s another par-3 but at 170 yards. Water can rear its ugly face again in front of the green, and the bunkers are looming in the back.
Almost perfect placement from Woods, nailing the tee to 21 feet from the pin with birdie in sight.
After taking his time to line it up, Woods comes inches away from his fourth birdie of the day. He third straight par.
A 440-yard par-4, Woods strong short game will be tested by multi-sloping green and the back-right hole placement with two bunkers at the end of the fairway. Woods comes up with a 304-yard drive down the heart of the fairway, eyeing up the second shots he’s struggled with most of the afternoon.
He sticks the second shot on the green with roughly 20 feet left to the hole and a chance to get even. Studies the green well, but watches the first putt tail away slightly left to within four or so feet. Woods completes his fourth straight par, and its to the final hole of the day.
Closing out with a 465-yard par 4, Woods has an uphill fairway with a a sharp dogleg to overcome and bunkers on the left, and then two big traps before the green.
Another dead center drive that runs parallel to the bunkers in the middle of the fairway, with a straight-on view of the green.
Woods’ second shot needed a little more power as it bounces on the green but rolls back about 20 extra feet, making birdie highly unlikely. He’s 59 feet from the pin, with two-putt in play for fifth-straight par.
And he sails a beautiful putt to within two feet to set up par. And he’s done at one-over 73, in a tie for 41 st place after 18 holes.
There’s a lot to like from Woods today. Exceptional chipping with some nice putts, but tees and approach shots need more consistency before Friday’s second round. The fact that he limited mistakes on the last five holes could is also a good sign, but Woods faces a tough climb out of the hole to make the cut.