AUGUSTA, GA. — Tiger Woods began his Masters Thursday morning by pulling a 3-wood from his bag, launching his tee shot from the first tee, scarcely giving it a glance as it bisected the fairway. But in the early part of the first round at Augusta National Golf Club, the real action has been left to other.
David Lynn, an eccentric 39-year-old Englishman playing his first Masters, shot an opening 4-under-par 68 to take the early lead over, among others, American Jim Furyk, who was 3 under as he approached the final few holes of his round.
Lynn, who was the runner-up to Rory McIlroy at last year’s PGA Championship, made a par putt of more than 10 feet on 18 to finish up a round with six birdies and two bogeys.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world who is pursuing his fifth Masters title, opened with five straight pars, though not in conventional style. He hit his tee shot at the par-5 second left of the fairway, and followed with a miserable hybrid – a shot he hoped to draw into the green, but which he instead smothered, hitting it low and left into the gallery.
Woods then pitched back over the green, and needed to hit a splendidly delicate chip to get within three feet and save his par. But after another wayward tee shot at the third, it was clear that Woods was having to work early in his round. He made his first birdie at the sixth, and then made another at 8 to get to 2 under.
John Peterson, another Masters rookie, played his first 16 holes without a bogey and was 2 under with two to play. Others who have spent time at 2 under for part of the morning include England’s Justin Rose, who’s ranked third in the world; Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, who joined Rose in shooting 2-under 34 on the front; South Africa’s Tim Clark and Brian Gay, playing just his second Masters.
The tournament began under cloudy, heavy skies at 7:50 a.m., when legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit ceremonial tee shots. The air was thick and humid, and the forecast calls for the possibility of thunderstorms beginning late Thursday afternoon.
Bubba Watson, the 2012 champion, hit the first shot of his defense well right of the first fairway, which led to an opening bogey. Watson got the shot back with a birdie at the second, but then made bogey at No. 5.
Television coverage begins at 3 p.m., just as Woods should be finishing up. Several of the pre-tournament favorites play late on Thursday. Three-time champion Phil Mickelson joins South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, last year’s runner-up, and former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer of Germany at 1:30 p.m. Rory McIlroy, ranked second in the world behind Woods, plays in the following group at 1:41 p.m. with 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley and Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson.