AUGUSTA, Ga. – Henrik Stenson made two eagles. Tiger Woods sprayed two shots into the trees. Both were on the leaderboard early in the first round of the Masters, though Stenson had to like his position much better.
Stenson surged to 6-under par through 10 holes Thursday to move three shots ahead of the pack, while Woods scrambled his way back from early mistakes to make the turn at 1 under, in a tie for sixth and trailing Stenson by five.
Helped by a chip-in for eagle on the par-5 15th - also his second of the day - Paul Lawrie finished the first round at 3-under 69 and was the early clubhouse leader at damp, steamy Augusta National. A bit after Lawrie finished, Ross Fisher also came in. He made birdies on 13, 14 and 15 and finished at 1-under 71.
“It’s not too often that I’ve had two eagles, so that was nice. I was disappointed in 18,” said Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, who bogeyed the final hole.
The course got drenched Tuesday and Wednesday and more thunderstorms were forecast for Thursday afternoon, when Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were scheduled to tee off.
Others in the big tie for sixth with Woods included Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink and Aaron Baddeley.
Jason Dufner and U.S. Amateur runner-up Patrick Cantlay were at 2 under early in their rounds.
Stenson, celebrating his 36th birthday, has missed the last two cuts at the Masters and hasn’t finished higher than 17th. But he’s making quite a splash this time. The Swede made eagle on the par-5 second and eighth holes Thursday to make the turn in 31, only one shot off the Masters record for the front nine.
Seeking his first major victory since the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods clanked his first tee shot off a tree and hit his second into a creek - pounding his driver into the ground after the second errant tee shot. He scrambled for par on both holes. Then he made birdie on No. 3, gave that shot back with a bogey on 7, then birdied the par-5 eighth to get back into red numbers.
Woods instantly became the favorite to claim a fifth green jacket for himself after winning his first PGA Tour event in 30 months two weeks ago at Bay Hill.
But it was a shaky opening for the 14-time major winner, who has managed to finish fourth at Augusta National the last two years despite the health and personal problems that have punctured his invincibility.
Woods was among a number of top players who came to the year’s first major playing well.
McIlroy, Mickelson and world No. 1 Luke Donald all have wins this year. Donald was 1 over through eight holes.
Mickelson was on hand early to watch the Big 3 - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player - kick off the tournament with their ceremonial tee shots.
All three hit the fairway.
“I don’t think any of us can see that far,” Nicklaus said. “We can hear them all land, though.”