The Masters 2022 round one review: Tiger Woods fitness admission as Danny Willett leads European charge

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Comeback king Tiger Woods posted a one-under-par 71 on his Masters homecoming but admitted he’ll be ‘sore’ for his efforts.

The 46-year-old, who has five green jackets to his name, made his return to competitive golf at Augusta on Thursday – just 14 months after a potentially life-threatening car accident.

His opening-round score sees him sit tied-11th on the leader board and four shots behind day-one leader Sung-Jae Im.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That will keep the Magnolia Drive patrons happy, with the prospect of three more rounds to come from their favourite son.

Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd after making par on the seventh green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National  Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesTiger Woods acknowledges the crowd after making par on the seventh green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National  Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd after making par on the seventh green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It will also go down well with the Masters organisers as the sporting world tunes in to keep abreast of Woods’ progress.

Yet, despite the interest, adulation and subsequent plaudits after a first-day score that included three birdies and two bogeys, the former world No.1 admitted he’ll be feeling the after effects.

Woods, who feared he might lose his right leg following the single-car collision on the outskirts of Los Angeles in 2021, said the adrenaline kicked in as he made his opening drive in front of a packed first tee-box.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But with Augusta notoriously hilly, the 82-time PGA tour winner confessed it was far from easy as his round progressed.

He said: “I'm going to be sore, yes. That's just the way it is.

“But the training cycles that we've had make sure that I have the stamina to keep going - and this is only one round.

“We've got three more to go. There's a long way to go and a lot of shots to be played. No, it did not get easier, let's put it that way. I can swing a golf club. The walking's not easy, and it's difficult.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“As I said with all the hard work, my leg, it's going to be difficult for the rest of my life. That's just the way it is, but I'm able to do it. People have no idea how hard it's been. My team does.

“They've worked with me every single day. We haven't taken a day off since I got out of the bed after those three months. Granted, some days are easier than others. Some days we push it pretty hard, and other days we don't. But always doing something.

“So, it's commitment to getting back and commitment to getting back to a level that I feel that I can still do it. I did something positive today (Thursday).

South Korean Im leads the way on five-under (67) heading into day two – setting up the possibility of consecutive Asian winners of the green jacket, following Hideki Matsuyama’s victory in 2021.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet it could so easily have been Players’ champion Cameron Smith at the summit but for double bogeys on the first and 18th.

The latter – the most difficult hole on the course on day one – saw him drop to four under for the day, with a three putt in front of the clubhouse proving costly.

“To be honest, those couple of double bogeys really didn't have too bad a shots in them,’ said Smith, who was spotted on occasions keeping an eye on Woods’ play as he was in the group immediately ahead of the American.

“It's not like I was scratching it out of the trees.

“(On the 18th), I think most of us are right-handed golfers out here, and the wind blowing behind your back there is never really a nice thing. And the tee shot is so demanding there, you almost have to hug the tree line down the left.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Even if you just start it right slightly, I think you'll find yourself in those right trees and having to chip out. It's not surprising at all.”

The leading Brit and European in the field going into day two is 2016 champion Danny Willett.

His three-under-par 69 – his best opening round at Augusta – sees the Yorkshire man tied for third alongside Scotty Sheffler, Joaquín Niemann, who eagled the 11th with a superb chip-in, and Dustin Johnston.

Willett said: “Things have been trending nicely. We're playing nice. The body's good. And this place lends itself to the certain golf shots that we've been trying to work on and trying to hit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It doesn't mean you're going to hit them obviously, but it's always nice when the kinds of things you've been working for and what you've been working at kind of pay off.

“It doesn't mean they're going to pay off the next three days, but it's always nice to get a good start around this place.’

Selected other scores: Matt Fitzpatrick (-1); Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Hideki Matsuyama, Viktor Hovland (even par), Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Collin Morikawa, (+1), Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele (+2), Brooks Koepka (+3), Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau (+4).

Today’s tee-times (BST – selected): Collin Morikawa, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson (3.12pm); Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Will Zalatoris (3.23pm); Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth (3.34pm); Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Matt Fitzpatrick (3.45pm); Danny Willett, Jason Kokrak, Talor Gooch (5.57pm); Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith (6.30pm); Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen, Joaquin Niemann (6.41pm).