By Eddie Pells, The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Before Tiger Woods gets too bummed about spraying a tee shot and finishing the first round with a whimper at the Masters, he ought to go talk to Henrik Stenson.
Woods turned an unplayable lie into a better-than-expected bogey on the last hole Thursday to close out a round of even-par 72.
Stenson, on the other hand, mashed his ball into the trees and made a club-slamming, quadruple-bogey 8, sending him sole possession of the lead by two shots to an unsatisfying tie for 11th at 1 under.
"That's what happens here," Stenson said. "It keeps on snowballing and I got the snowman at the end."
Both were trailing a threesome of clubhouse leaders at 3-under 69 – Francesco Molinari, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie – on a calm but damp and muddy day at Augusta National. Lee Westwood and Bubba Watson were also at 3 under on the back nine. Zach Johnson, the 2007 champion, was in a group of four at 2 under.
Rory McIlroy made the turn at 1-under 35, then blocked his tee shot on No. 10 way to the right – the opposite of where he went on the 10th hole last year, when a meltdown cost him a four-shot lead in the final round. Phil Mickelson was even-par through eight.
They all spent the bulk of the day chasing Stenson. He made two eagles on the front nine and spent the better part the round with a multi-shot lead at 6-under. He looked virtually certain to be celebrating his 36th birthday by sleeping on the lead.
That plan went awry when he smashed his tee shot on 18 deep into the woods, couldn't get out after trying to scoot the ball below some trees, then got a bad lie on trampled pine straw and hit a mediocre punch out on his third shot, which had him pounding his club into the ground. His fourth shot, from 122 yards, missed the green. Chip. Putt. Putt. Putt. And that's how he got the 8.
"Finishing with an 8, I don't think I've ever done that," he said.
Woods finished with a 5 and was lucky to get that.
His drive went into the same thicket as Stenson's did moments before, and he had to take a drop and a penalty stroke before hitting his next shot. But he punched out and got up and down, closing the day much the way he opened it.
Woods clanked his first tee shot off a tree and put the second one in the creek, well to the left of the second fairway. He salvaged pars on both and felt pretty decent after his round of 72, even though it included a bogey-bogey finish.
"I hit some of the worst golf shots I've ever hit today," Woods said. "That's OK. I just hung in there, grinded my way around the golf course, stayed patient, stayed in the moment. I could've shot one, maybe two better but I got a lot out of that round."
In search of his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods came in playing well. Two weeks ago, he won his first PGA Tour event in 30 months. But on the driving range before his round, he said he felt something creeping up on him.
"Old patterns. Some of my old stuff from a few years ago," he said. "I'm trying to work through it. Every now and again, it pops up and today it popped up again."