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Friday, April 11, 2014

Tiger May Be Glad He's Missing This One

The word is out that Tiger Woods is basically immobilized for a couple of weeks until his back goes through its initial healing phase. We also know that he's watching the Masters on TV.

He may be glad he has an excuse to miss this one. A number of favorites struggled on Thursday.

Bill Haas stripes one

Granted, Bill Haas shot the best round of his career at Augusta, a 68. Granted, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, and Bubba Watson -- two past champions and a "nearly was" -- posted 69s. Granted, a handful of first-timers and seniors managed to shoot 70s and 71s. In all, 19 players finished Round 1 under par.

But they're the exceptions. As Rory (71) noted, "It was a tough setup. I think that they [Augusta] really wanted to do that, they didn't want the scores to get too low."

No worries there, mate. Just to name a few casualties... Keegan Bradley shot 75, Mickelson and Rose shot 76, the Johnson boys (Dustin and Zach) shot 77 and 78 respectively, and Jason Dufner shot 80.

Many players were surprised by the unexpected late afternoon winds. Nick Faldo showed some surprise that a few Sunday pin positions turned up so early in the tournament, and you could almost hear the gasps from the various announcers as the scores went up.

On Thursday. On what is usually the easiest day of the week.

As picks go, mine didn't do so bad. Although Jason Day shot 75 and, as already mentioned, Mickelson shot 76,  my other choices fared better. Scott shot 69 and my first-timers Patrick Reed and Harris English shot an acceptable 73 and 74. Given that the field's average score was nearly 2.5 strokes over par, I'll take it.

We won't really know how things shake out until the end of today's round and we see if either draw got an advantage over the other. But after the first round there are two things I'm reasonably sure of:

(1) The absence of the Eisenhower Tree probably won't lower scores very much.

(2) Tiger will have trouble laying still while he's laughing so hard.

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