Words with … Tiger Woods
Q: How do you rate the round?
A: It was a good day. A solid day. I thought the greens were a little bit tough in the sense that they just didn’t have the sheen to them, they didn’t have the roll out. A couple of putts, we were talking about it in our group, that just weren’t that fast.
Q: Did you leave some stuff short?
A: Yeah, we were. Luke (Donald) hit a couple putts that were short. I hit a couple putts, and so did (Scott) Piercy.
Q: Early in the round, 2, 3, 4, you had to make some nice up and downs to pull the round back together there and sort of give it the momentum to the round.
A: (On No.) 2 was a poor second shot and left myself just in the absolute wrong angle there. I had to make a big decision there, whether I go short right of the green or do I go long left. Because going at the flag I was going to put it to the back right part of the green and that’s a 100-some-odd-foot putt there.
The problem is if I went short right, if I don’t hit it far enough, I don’t have an angle at the flag, I can’t pitch over that bunker. And then if I hit it too far I’m in the bunker, and that’s one of the harder bunker shots to get close.
So we had to go long left over the green because chipping back, there’s a backstop coming off that lip of the bunker. And the worst chip we can hit there is probably about six feet. Chip it past the hole and let it roll off the lip of the bunker. And that’s basically what we did.
Q: 70 has been a good number for you on Thursday here. Do you see it that way? Is 70 a good number?
A: It’s a good start. Some years some guys shot 65 starting out here. But right now I’m only four back, and I’m right there.
Q: (Hole) 14, was that one that had a problem with speed?
A: (On) 14 I hit a good second shot in there, and I was surprised it went that far. I went down there, and I literally don’t have a putt to go at the hole. So I’m trying to put it 10 feet right of the hole, between 10 and 12 feet, that’s about as good as I could do. And I put it about the 10-foot mark. Then I read the putt and it was a putt that, in front of the ball looked like it was going to go left, behind the hole it looked like it was going to go right. And I just didn’t get committed to which way it was going to break.
WOODS FROM THE START
Tiger Woods’ best and worst first-round scores and how he finished in the tournament. He has shot better than 70 once in 17 Masters’ first rounds as a pro, but notice what happens when he shoots 70 in his first round, which he did Thursday:
Worst first-rounds; Best first rounds;
Year; Rd; Finish; Year; Rd. Finish;
2003; 76; T-15; 2010; 68; T-4;
2004; 75; T-22; 2009; 70; T-6;
2000; 75; 5; 2002; 70; 1st;
2005; 74; 1st; 2001; 70; 1st;
2007; 73; T-2; 1997; 70; 1st;
Donald survives cracked driver, shoots 1 under
Luke Donald will play at least one more round in this year’s Masters with a new driver after discovering a crack in the one he was using while walking up No. 14 during the first round.
“I’m going to have to get some drivers here as quickly as possible and obviously not having teed up one, having a fresh one, it’s not where you really want to be, ideally, but I’ll manage,” he said.
Donald uses a TaylorMade driver. He said he thinks the company will ship one to him in time for his 1:41 p.m. Friday tee time.
He said he doesn’t know when the driver was damaged, but he was still able to hit nine of 14 fairways and post six birdies – three on each nine — to finish 1 under.
Fowler hits ‘all-world shot’ to birdie 17th
Rickie Fowler had a few bad shots that resulted in two double-bogeys, but he pulled off what playing partner Jason Day called an all-world shot.
Fowler’s drive on the 440-yard 17th hole landed in the second cut, left of the fairway. But he had an opening about 5-6 feet wide between two trees for his approach shot.
“I tried not to look at it too much,” he said. “It was big enough.”
He hit a 6-iron that split the opening and landed in what he called a perfect place on the green to the back-right pin placement. He drained the birdie putt to get to 4 under.
Driver lets Cink down
Stewart Cink entered the Masters riding the good vibes of his 13-under, sixth-place finish at the Shell Houston Open two weeks ago. It was arguably his best showing since winning the 2009 British Open.
But he didn’t drive the ball as well as has been the past few months in the first round, hitting eight of 14 fairways. The result was a 3-over 75.
“… This course has little patience for defensive play,” he said in a text message. “But at least it’s still early, and there’s time to make up some ground.”
Cink closed with a birdie on 18 to head into Friday’s second round on a positive note. He is scheduled to tee off at 1:19 p.m. Friday.
Mickelson: ‘I’m giving course way too much respect’
Because Augusta National’s greens are playing slower than he can remember, Phil Mickelson said he needs to change his mindset for Friday’s second round.
Mickelson, three-time Masters champ, finished 1 under Thursday, struggling to a 2 over on the first nine — something he predicted Tuesday — and striking the ball solidly on the second nine for a 3 under.
“… I’ve get to get after these pins because the balls not running like it used to, and I’m giving this course way too much respect based upon my past knowledge,” he said.
Mickelson told a TV crew that he felt he lost ground to those in the field who took advantage of the scoring conditions, but seemed to change his mind a few minutes later.
“It was a round that didn’t help me much, but certainly didn’t hurt me,” he said. Mickelson is scheduled to tee off at 10:23 a.m. Friday.
Kuchar pleased with afternoon conditions
Matt Kuchar said he had to turn his Masters broadcast off after hearing too many announcers say too many times that those going off Thursday afternoon would have a rougher time than those going off in the morning.
Kuchar, teeing off in the last group at 1:52 p.m., proved the analysts wrong by shooting a 4-under 68. He’s two shots behind the leaders.
“We ended up getting some pretty nice conditions,” he said.
Kuchar, a former standout at Georgia Tech, posted birdies on Nos. 2, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 14 with bogeys on 4 and 16.
“I played nice golf,” he said. “I hit a lot of fairways and had a lot of birdie chances.”
Kuchar will tee off at 10:45 a.m. Friday.
Couples acknowledges that Masters fires him up
Might as well go ahead and write it down. Forget age. Forget backaches. If it’s Masters week, go ahead and put Fred Couples’ name on the leaderboard.
The 29-time Masters participant and 1992 champion was low green jacket in the clubhouse after Thursday’s opening round. He and 2008 champion Trevor Immelman each shot 68s.
Couples, who turns 54 in October, has had similar starts in recent years. He averaged 69.2 strokes in his past four first rounds at Augusta National and averaged 4 under par after two rounds the past three years.
“I get fired up,” Couples said of his penchant for playing well in this event. “But I have to drive it really well. I stepped up on 1 today and hit a really good one, and I hit a good one to 5, and I hit a good one on 7, and I hit a good one on 8. Which are all holes that are good driving holes.
The long-hitting Couples, nicknamed “Boom-Boom” from his days as a full-time PGA Tour player, played the par-5s in 3 under Thursday.
But it’s about more than hitting the ball long, he said.
“People think this place is wide open,” Couples said. “Drive it to the right on No. 7 and see how many pars you’re going to make, or hit it in that bunker on No. 8 off the tee, and you’re not going to make any birdies. So I did that well, and it just makes the course play easier for me. I used my length, and tomorrow if I can come out and feel good and pound my driver, it will make tomorrow seem easier, too.”
Second rounds haven’t been a problem lately. But Couples hasn’t broken par in his past four rounds of play after Friday.
“I’m going to come out tomorrow and do everything I can to keep this thing going because I know I can play this course,” Couples said. “And if I hit it like that, I can play it every day.”
Steve Hummer, Doug Roberson, Chip Towers and Ray Cox