AUGUSTA - How can that be topped?
After the first round of the 2010 Masters, there are 27 major titles represented in the top ten on the leaderboard. There are the old legends (Fred Couples and Tom Watson), Asia's best (Y.E. Yang and K.J. Choi), worldwide golfing stars (Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood), and a trio of budding contenders (Anthony Kim, Nick Watney, and Ian Poulter).
There's also an ashamed superstar returning to his craft. There sits Tiger Woods, two shots off of the lead after shooting a four under 68.
In perhaps the most anticipated golfing return of all-time, Woods laced his opening tee shot down the center of the first fairway Thursday to the roars of the crowd standing up to 20 patrons deep along the ropes. From there, the four-time Masters Champion used violent, effective drives and aggressive iron play to shoot the best first round of his 16-year Masters career.
"I hit the ball well all day," Woods said after his round. "If I putted well today, it could have been a really special round."
Woods finished the day with three birdies, three bogeys, and two eagles. It was the first time he has recorded multiple eagles in a single round at Augusta, a feat he accomplished on the 8th and 13th holes.
Woods was greeted warmly throughout the day by the patrons of Augusta National. Two planes, however, flew over the course, heckling the embattled Woods for his infidelity and attempt at rehabilitation.
"The reception was incredible, from the putting green to the range to the first tee and all day, it was just incredible," Woods said. "I didn't see (the planes)."
Fifty-year-old and '92 Masters Champion Fred Couples sits atop the field after carding a six under 66, the lowest Masters round of his career. Couples has missed two consecutive cuts in Augusta, and walked in the gallery behind Woods after missing the cut last year.
"To win Augusta at age 50 would be a pipedream," Couples said after his round. "Can I still win? Of course. It would be a nice dream, that's for sure."
Sixty-year-old Tom Watson, who won the Masters in '77 and '81, sits one stroke back after a five under 67. He was the only player not to make a bogey Thursday, and his 67 ties the score he shot in the final round to win in '77. Watson fell just short of winning the 2009 British Open, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink after missing an eight foot putt on the final hole of regulation.
"It's a longshot for somebody of my age to (win)," Watson said. "But still, it can be done."
Mickelson, Westwood, Yang and Choi tied Watson's five under 67, one shot back of Couples.
The weather, which was often extremely windy with scattered showers on Thursday, is expected to clear up for the rest of the weekend.
Most players believe the pin placements, which Woods said were ‘as easy as I've ever seen them' Thursday, will be more difficult Friday.
Woods, Choi and Matt Kuchar will tee off at 10:35 a.m. Friday and will be the featured group on Masters.com, where you can their play live through the second nine.
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