Friday, May 25, 2018
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Putt into water was Woods' lowlight

AUGUSTA, Ga. - That wasn't an instant replay Tiger Woods provided on the 13th green during yesterday's opening round of the Masters, although his first putt on the hole was bound to be replayed incessantly by the TV folks.

Woods executed a rare second putt from the same spot after he watched his first effort scoot past the cup, off the green, down the bank, and into a couple inches of water in Rae's Creek.

After his eagle putt from 40-plus feet went badly awry, Woods had three options. He could have played the ball from the water with no penalty, or either chipped from the opposite bank of the creek or returned to the spot of his previous shot with a one-stroke penalty.

Woods re-putted and ended up with a bogey 6 on the hole. He began his weather-delayed round on the back nine at Augusta National and was 2-over-par through 12 holes when play was suspended because of darkness.

The putt on No. 13 was not the end of his problems.

Woods made the turn to the front side and hit a near-perfect approach shot from the middle of the fairway on No. 1. But his ball caromed off the flagstick and ricocheted into a greenside bunker, leaving him with an awkward stance near the back of the trap. He blasted well past the pin, perhaps 30 feet, and took bogey.

"Hitting the pin and ending up in a bunker, that's just really bad luck," said Chris DiMarco, who completed 14 holes at 4-under. "But Tiger has had a few good breaks over his career. It's just golf."

Woods was not available for comment after leaving the course.

SUCKED DRY: How could greens so saturated by water, as Augusta National's were yesterday after taking on 1 1/4 inches of rain, regain enough speed to so badly confound a putter like Woods on No. 13? The course has a permanent SubAir vacuum drainage system installed under each green that literally sucks surface water below ground level and fully restores greens to pre-storm conditions within several hours. Reportedly, the cost of the system, which was installed over a number of years starting in the mid-1990s, was about $20,000 per green.

WORST EVER: The worst round in Masters' history won't end up in the record books.

It is part of the tournament's charm that its ex-champions are invited to participate. But Billy Casper, the 1970 winner who is now 73 years old, would surely not use the word charming to describe his round of 106 yesterday.

Casper had the highest-ever score on a par-3 hole at Augusta National when he pulled five shots into the water at No. 16 en route to a 14. Tom Weiskopf (No. 12 in 1980) and Tommy Nakajima (No. 13 in 1978) had scored 13s on par-3 holes.

Casper, who opened his round on the back nine, made the turn in 57, eight strokes higher than any score ever recorded on that nine. And his 106 was far worse than the 95 authored by Charles Kunkle in 1956.

However, Casper neither signed nor turned in his scorecard and was officially listed as having withdrawn; meaning his score and all that went into it will not be recorded.

"I have the card in my pocket and I'm going to frame it," said Casper, who has an artificial left hip and was playing here for the first time in four years.

"I just wanted to play one last time and get it out of my system," Casper said. "I just couldn't get off my left side. I just kept hitting everything to the left."

He said he decided to play at the urging of his family.

"My kids wanted me to play, to walk the fairways and be in the tournament," he said. "We had a lot of fun out there. They were there all the way around; five kids and five grandchildren. I was playing for them."

EARLY EXIT: Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo withdrew after playing eight holes - he was 4-over at the time - because of back pain. He said he has had "a niggling problem" that was aggravated when he made his third shot on No. 2 from an uneven lie.

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