Apr 8th, 2022
Sung-jae Im leads at Augusta
But all eyes were on the Tiger Woods comeback
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
-5 S-J Im (Kor); -4 C Smith (Aus); -3 D Willett (Eng), J Niemann (Chi), D Johnson (US), S Scheffler (US); -2 J Kokrak (US), C Conners (Can), P Cantlay (US)
Im took advantage of the calmer afternoon conditions opening with three consecutive birdies and turned in 32. He faltered with bogeys at the 10th and 11th but recovered to eagle the par five 13th. and birdie the 15th to grab the lead.
Cam Smith, who is looking to achieve the Players Championship and Masters double, had an extraordinary round. After opening with a double-bogey at the 1st hole, he strung together eight birdies in the next sixteen holes before giving up the lead with a double-bogey at the last.
Recently crowned world number one, Scotty Scheffler sits in a group of four two shots off the lead alongside former champions Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson. An impressive Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who partnered Tiger Woods, completes the group on three-under.
Some of the big names struggling on the opening day included Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Louis Oosthuizen who all posted four-over-par 76s.
Brooks Koepka was looking in control, making the turn two-under but the wheels came off on the back nine with five bogies leaving him three-over for the tournament and another in danger of missing the cut.
The day's story was, as ever, Tiger Woods who had crowds nine or ten deep following him around the famous Augusta course. After almost losing a leg in a horrific car accident just over a year ago the fifteen-time major champion has made a remarkable recovery.
"I'm very lucky to have this opportunity to be able to play, and not only that, to play in the Masters and to have this type of reception," said Woods.
"I mean, the place was electric."
Woods, who is still walking with a slight limp and has adapted his swing due to his back troubles and the damage to his leg, shot a very competitive one-under-par 71 to sit in a share of tenth place.
Elsewhere Rory McIlroy who had less focus on him due to the Woods circus posted a one-over-par 73. The Northern Irishman had been under par but two late bogeys spoiled his day somewhat and he will look for improvement in round two if he is to contend for his first Masters title.