Ball Doesnt Bounce Tigers Way


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods looked stunned as the ball sped past the hole toward the edge of the 13th green. A collective gasp came from the crowd as the ball kept going, going, going, finally trickling down a hill into a creek in front of the green.
Incredibly, the best player of his time had just putted - yes, putted - a ball into the water.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had problems all over the course on Thursday.
Just four holes into a Masters he came into brimming with confidence, Woods had committed one of golf's ultimate sins. What began as a putt for eagle ended with a nice 2-putt just to save a bogey. Still to be determined is whether it will cost Woods the chance to snap a major championship drought that's lasted nearly three years.
Things didn't get any better on a day when Woods tossed clubs, kicked his bag, and watched one of his shots hit a pin and go into a bunker before darkness halted his struggles after only 12 holes.
And just for good measure, Woods had to sit through a review by Masters officials over whether he was standing astride the hole while tapping in a putt on the 14th hole. After looking at video, officials ruled there was no violation.
Woods finished the day 2-over through 12 holes, already six shots off the lead. And that was just two days after telling the media his game was peaking.
'I know my ball striking is there,' Woods said.
Whether he felt the same after a gloomy day on rain-soaked Augusta National wasn't known. After being driven in from the course when play was suspended by darkness, Woods declined comment and quickly drove off with a rules official.
Whatever he was thinking couldn't have been good.
Woods not only putted a ball in the water, he also duck-hooked a drive into a tree on No. 2 and then sprayed his next shot into the trees all the way on the other side of the fairway.
Disgusted with himself, Woods kicked at his bag as he walked up to the ball in the woods. He then hit his next shot into a greenside bunker and had to hole a 25-footer for par.
And even when Woods hit it good, bad things happened.
His wedge on the first hole hit the pin, only to kick back and roll into the front bunker. What likely would have been a birdie turned into a bogey, further dampening his mood.
And he didn't get much sympathy from one of his competitors.
'He's had a few good breaks over his career,' Chris DiMarco said. 'It's golf. It's just the way it is.'
Woods had to start on the back nine when thunderstorms forced Masters officials to juggle tee times. He was 1-over after three holes when he came to the 13th, which traditionally ranks as one of the easiest holes on the course.
Woods reached the green of the par-5 with a tough shot out of the pines, but his ball bounded some 70 feet past the pin tucked in front. He lined up his eagle putt, gave it a rap with his putter and watched as it raced past the hole, picked up speed and rolled off the green.
Woods was walking toward the hole when the ball disappeared, going down the hill and rolling into the water. He took his cap off in disbelief as his caddie, Steve Williams, ran for the bag he had left on the next tee in case his boss wanted to try to wedge it out of Rae's Creek.
Instead, Woods called over a rules official and placed another ball where his had originally been. Then he putted again, this time for par. That putt ended up about a foot from the hole, and Woods tapped in for bogey.
Woods will return to the fourth hole Friday to complete his round on a nine that doesn't offer as many birdie possibilities as the back. While only 24 players finished, Woods is in an 11-way tie for 36th, meaning a lot of players are already between him and the lead.
Woods, who won here in record fashion in 1997 and had three green jackets by the time he was 26, has not won a major championship in his last 10 tries.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Masters Tournament
  • Masters Photo Gallery
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.