‘Fore please. Tiger Woods now driving’

Peter Finnan
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Tiger Woods (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

It’s the most anticipated day in the golfing calendar. Day one of the Masters, the first sign of spring, the start of the golfing season. But this was no ordinary Thursday at Augusta, anticipation had reached fever pitch before the first break of light with thousands of patrons flooding in to get into position to see the big cat. Tiger Woods.

Appropriately, the thundery clouds parted as Woods stood on the first tee basking in the morning sun.

This time last year it seemed impossible that Tiger would play golf again, you didn’t even fathom it. After all the injury horrors over his career, last year’s frightening car crash was surely the final blow.

But this is Tiger Woods and here he is again looking to complete the greatest sporting comeback since he last completed the greatest sporting comeback of all time in 2019.

Crowds fit for any Masters Sunday came pouring in on Monday to see the great man prowl around Augusta. Players and fans alike were pleasantly surprised to find a healthy and sweet-swinging Tiger in the practice rounds which only fuelled the hype and begged the question. Can he win?

Tiger hasn’t walked a full 18-holes this week in any of the practice rounds and his greatest challenge will be how his right leg copes with the steep hills of Augusta National.

Scottie Scheffler is the world number one, Rory McIlroy is looking to complete the career grand slam, Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion. Billed as the most wide-open Masters tournament for many a year, and all anyone wants to know about is Tiger Woods.

He doesn’t move the needle, he is the needle and all the pictures of 15 to 20 deep crowds lining the fairways for the practice rounds prove that. As much as I like Freddie Couples I don’t think there was much allure for him!

Crowds that were six rows deep circled the putting green as Tiger went through his final preparations. It has already been a trying week for the five-time Masters champion and he walked to the first tee not moving quite as freely as he was four days ago.

The early atmosphere on the course was dull as the players were greeted to a murky opening morning in Georgia and patrons had to wait a little longer to see the man of the moment after tee times were pushed back 30 minutes.

Dressed fittingly in Azalea pink Tiger brightened up the day. When he stood on the first tee and you could hear a pin drop with the silence, the anticipation of 15,000+ patrons surrounding the tee box waiting to hear his name announced.

Scenes that perhaps the 72nd hole on Sunday wouldn’t rival as the pied piper had everyone marching to his tune once again.

A day many thought would never come again, a rapturous roar echoed around the golf course as Tiger Woods was “now driving.”

Not known for splitting the fairway on the difficult first hole, Woods was up and out of his tee shot early with a dismaying grimace as his ball peeled towards the infamous right fairway bunker.

There was a deafening silence throughout the opening hole, the patrons in awe at a man doing the unthinkable once again. Only the birds whistling and singing high up in the pines were oblivious to what was happening below them.

Having laboured up the opening hole in underwhelming fashion, Woods stood over a six-footer for his par, and like he has done so often over the last 25 years he drilled it right in the middle of the cup without touching the sides.

A raucous roar echoed around the course. The first Tiger roar at Augusta in almost two years and surely the first of many this week.

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