Tiger defies aches, pains, poor light on Masters quest

Steve Keating and Darren WaltonReuters
Tiger Woods is aiming to make the cut for a record 24th consecutive time at the Masters. (EPA PHOTO)
Camera IconTiger Woods is aiming to make the cut for a record 24th consecutive time at the Masters. (EPA PHOTO) Credit: EPA

Tiger Woods had played just 24 holes this year coming into the opening round of the Masters.

Now the 15-time major winner will put his battered body to the ultimate test when he tackles nearly as many in a single day.

Looking to make a Masters-record 24th consecutive cut, Woods got his quest off to a solid if unspectacular start on Thursday, scrapping his way to one under par through 13 holes before play was halted due to darkness.

The 48-year-old will play the remaining five holes from his opening round before going straight into another 18 on one of golf's most challenging layouts.

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Woods, who returned to golf after a near fatal car crash in 2021 almost resulted in the amputation of his right leg, said he was holding up fine.

"The body is OK, we've got some work to do yet tonight," said Woods, who also underwent ankle surgery last year.

"We're going to warm up and just kind of head down there and start our round (on Friday local time).

"The flow would be pretty much between 20 and 30 minutes in between rounds, so it'll be a natural flow from the finish of the first round and continuation of the second."

With storms delaying the start of the year's first major by two and a half hours, rainy and gusty conditions would not have favoured Woods, but by the time he headed out in the afternoon with Max Homa and Australia's former world No.1 Jason Day, the sun and heat had returned.

Woods got his round off to the best possible start with a birdie at the first hole, something he had only done once before, way back in 1999.

"I don't remember the other time, to be honest with you," Woods said.

"I hit a nice three-wood off of one, hit a nice little eight-iron in there about 10, 12 feet and made the putt."

The former world No.1 had to pull off some incredible scrambling, including one audacious left-handed shot off a tree root in the woods on the second, to stay - and finish - in red numbers.

"The wind was all over the place," he said. "It was one of the most tricky days that I've ever been a part of."

"It was hard to get a beat not only on what direction it was going, but the intensity - and it kept switching all over the place - and then the timing was affecting putts on the greens. It was a very difficult day."

It is Woods' first appearance since withdrawing from the Genesis Invitational in February with flu-like symptoms, and his first major in a year.

He made the cut at last year's Masters but withdrew before the end of the rain-interrupted third round, citing problems with his ankle that ultimately resulted in him going under the knife.

- with AAP

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