The most anticipated Masters in years (ever?) quickly turned into a collective pity party, as Tiger Woods’ return to Augusta for the first time since 2015 failed to live up to the hype. That is, until it did, if only a little bit.
Through 12, Tiger had buried himself in a hole that had all the feel of a pre-weekend exit. He couldn’t hit a fairway, couldn’t recover, couldn’t sink a putt. He was seven strokes back, out of contention and in need of a rally just to make it to Saturday.
Then he birdied 14, which to that point only one other player had done, carded another at the par-3 16th and suddenly his day was looking only partly bleak.
Tiger finished with a mistake-filled 73, still leaving him seven shots back of Jordan Spieth, who went crazy on the back nine in the afternoon rounds.
What went wrong?
Mainly the driver. It started on that first tee, when Tiger put his drive in the trees on the left side, and it continued from there. He found trees, he found sand, he found more trees. And when he did find the fairway, rarely did he give himself a makeable birdie putt.
He went off the rails a bit on 11, when he ripped his drive so far right that he actually rooted for it to go further right so as to find a clearing. From there he launched a line-drive recovery shot straight into the gallery, sending patrons (as they’re known here at Augusta) scrambling, and proceeded to make bogey.