Masters: Tiger Woods finishes strongly to salvage 73 on day one

Tiger Woods talks to Tim Barter after carding an opening 73 at Augusta National.

Tiger Woods made another erratic start on his return to the Masters as he dug deep to fire an opening one-over 73 at Augusta National.

Woods’ first appearance since 2015 has dominated the build-up to the first major of the year following his encouraging comeback from spinal fusion surgery, but he has work to do to get himself into contention after mixing three birdies with four bogeys.

The 42-year-old struggled for accuracy off the tee from the moment he pulled his opening three-wood into the pine trees at the first, although he did well to salvage a par before picking up a birdie at the third as he backed up a 330-yard drive with an excellent pitch and putt.

But Woods bunkered his tee shot to the fourth and could not get up-and-down, and he found more sand on the fifth fairway which led to back-to-back bogeys before he missed good chances to restore parity at the sixth and eighth as he turned in 37.

Woods finds the water at the 12th

The four-time champion dropped another shot at the 10th and then followed a wayward drive at the 11th by carving his ambitious second into the patrons, the resulting five dropping him to three over, and his tee shot to the 12th was blocked short and right and landed on the bank before rolling back into the water.

Woods did well to hole from 15 feet to limit the damage to a bogey and, with playing partner Marc Leishman topping the leaderboard, Woods again sent the galleries ducking for cover at 13 before settling for a par.

But he revived his challenge with a good putt from 10 feet for birdie at the next and he missed out on birdie at 15 after another visit to the pines, although he atoned when he converted a solid tee shot to 12 feet at the 16th, and two closing pars saw him remain at one over par.

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