published Friday, April 6th, 2012

Tiger Woods salvages even-par round of 72

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The gallery stood six deep along the ropes of the first tee and almost as deep along the entire first fairway when Tiger Woods began his opening Masters round Thursday.

Those along the left side of the fairway, in the pine straw, had an up-close look at Woods for his second shot of the tournament.

At the end of it, he signed for an even-par 72 after making three birdies and bogeys while fighting old tendencies with a new downswing.

"I just felt my way around today," Woods said. "I really grinded, stayed present."

He has won this tournament four times and has finished in fourth place the last two years. He's just 18 holes into his 18th Masters.

"I hit a few loose ones, but I said, 'Just stay committed,'" Woods said. "I made some bad swings. That's fine. This golf course is playing too difficult to go super-low on."

Stallings' super start

Former Tennessee Tech standout Scott Stallings played a practice round earlier this week with Webb Simpson.

As they walked down a fairway -- Stallings couldn't remember which one -- Simpson struck up a conversation about how he and Stallings played together at Black Creek Club.

'"What if I told you back in the 2008 Chattanooga Classic that in three years we'd be walking down the fairways of Augusta, both being winners on tour and playing in our first Masters?'" Stallings said. "We would have looked at each other like, 'Yeah, right.'"

But they did.

Stallings shot a 2-under-par 70, including a birdie on No. 17 as the rain began to fall and the wind began to dictate shots.

He is tied with Jim Furyk and former Masters winners Zach Johnson and Vijay Singh. Simpson shot an even 72.

"The day got off to a funny start -- like I'd never played golf before," Stallings said. "I forgot my yardage book. I didn't have any golf balls in my bag. I showed up to the range in my tennis shoes. I was very anxious to get out here and get going."

O'Meara out

Mark O'Meara, who won the Masters in 1998, withdrew Thursday morning just before his tee time of 11:08 because of a pulled muscle in his rib cage.

He made the decision not to participate after warming up on the range. That left Chez Reavie and Martin Laird to play as a twosome.

Scorecard scare

The official Masters computers had Luke Donald with a birdie 3 on the fifth hole. Questions arose after his round as to whether he made a birdie or a bogey there. The computer was wrong. Donald signed for his correct score of 3-over 75.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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