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Masters First Round News & Notes

Augusta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Having not played since withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open back in early February, Tiger Woods opened up with a 1-over 73 at the Masters on Thursday, tying him for 41st and putting him nine shots back of first-round leader Jordan Spieth.

The four-time Masters champion, who took about two months off from PGA Tour competition in order to work on his game, was up and down throughout most of the day as he went on to make three birdies and four bogeys.

"It was a good day. I felt good out there," Woods said. "I made probably two dumb mistakes out there, but other than that the only thing I really struggled with was the pace of the greens."

Despite his recent struggles, Woods is always looking to win whatever golf tournament he is playing in. Woods is vying for that elusive 15th major title, having not won one since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

It appeared to be more of the same early on for Woods as his opening tee shot went well right. While he did hit the green on the par-4 in two, Woods 3- putted for bogey to start the day off on the wrong foot.

Woods did not let the bogey get him down as his third shot on the par-5 second dropped within four feet. He kicked that in for birdie to get back to even- par.

Two holes later, Woods' tee shot at the par-3 fourth found the front bunker. His second shot went over the green and he 2-putted from the fringe for his second bogey.

Following three straight pars from five, Woods headed to the par-5 eighth. The par-5s turned out to be a saving grace for Woods all day.

After his second shot flew over the green near the grand stands, he got some relief and chipped five feet past the hole. Woods drained that for birdie to get back to even.

That did not last long, however, as Woods tripped to two bogeys over his next four holes at nine and 12, putting him at 2-over for the first time on the day. The bogey on the par-3 12th came as a result of a ball in the water off the tee.

Then along came another par-5 to help Woods get back on track once again. After hitting long and to the left with his second shot at No. 13, Woods chipped to about eight feet. Chipping was an aspect of his game that the 39- year-old had been struggling with of late.

"Well that's the strength of my game," Woods said about his chipping. "That's the way it should be and that's why I worked my (behind) off all those months and hit all those thousands upon thousands of shots to make sure it's back to being my strength again."

Woods went on to drain that birdie putt to get him back to 1-over. He finished up with five straight pars to end there.

The lone par-5 Woods did not birdie on Thursday was No. 15, which he parred. The 15th played the easiest of any hole on day one.

This is just the third round the 79-time PGA Tour winner has finished this season since missing the cut at the Phoenix Open and withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open during the first round.

TOM WATSON STILL HAS IT

At 65 years and seven months old, Tom Watson continues to turn heads as the two-time Masters champion shot a 1-under-par 71 in Thursday's first round.

Watson became the oldest player by nearly four years to break par in a Masters round. The previous record was held by three-time champion Sam Snead, who shot 71 in the third and fourth rounds in 1974 at 61 years and 10 months old.

The day did not start off in the right direction for the eight-time major champion as he tripped to a bogey at the first. However, Watson got back to even-par when his approach fell within a foot on the par-5 third and he kicked that in for birdie.

Following five straight pars, the Ryder Cup captain knocked in a 7-foot birdie to get into red numbers. He gave that shot back with a bogey on nine, but then dunked his third shot out of the bunker and into the bottom of the cup for birdie on No. 10.

Still at 1-under, Watson went on to trade a 4-foot birdie on 16 for a bogey on 17 and he finished up with a par at the last to complete his under-par round.

Watson is tied for 18th alongside the likes of defending champion Bubba Watson, who also won here in 2012, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and 2011 champion Charl Schwartzel.

* Bubba Watson is trying to join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods as the only players to successfully defend their titles in Augusta.

* The last seven Masters winners have opened with a round in the 60s. Since 2000, Tiger Woods is the only player to shoot over-par in the first round and go on to win. He carded a 2-over 74 in 2005, his last Masters victory.

* First-round leader Jordan Spieth, who missed tying the course record by one shot with an 8-under 64, has a win and two runner-up finishes in his last three events.

* Spieth ended tied for second and three shots behind Bubba Watson at last year's Masters. Spieth is the youngest first-round leader in Masters history.

* Rickie Fowler, who finished inside the top-5 in each of the four majors last season, is alongside Woods and 11 others at 1-over 73.

* Phil Mickelson made an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole for the first time since 1995. The three-time champion shot a 2-over 70 and is tied for 12th.

* For the fourth straight year, the trio of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were the honorary starters off the first tee. Palmer was the first of the three to have the honor in 2007. He was joined by Nicklaus in 2010 and Player came along in 2012. They have 13 Masters titles between the three of them.

* Playing in his final Masters at 63 years old, two-time winner and two-time low amateur Ben Crenshaw struggled to a 19-over 91, the highest score by six strokes on Thursday. It was Crenshaw's worst ever round at the Masters by six shots.

* Byron Meth, the reigning U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, was the low amateur on the day at 2-over 74.

* The par-5 15th was the easiest hole on the course in round one. Players averaged 4.65 strokes on that hole. It yielded two eagles, 43 birdies and just 10 bogeys or worse.

* The par-4 11th hole played the hardest on Thursday as players averaged 4.74 strokes on that hole. It allowed just three birdies to go along with 36 bogeys and five double-bogeys or worse.