There’s a no-cellphone rule at Augusta National, but Tiger Woods — who last won here two years before the original iPhone — can still put the Masters on vibrate.
Woods won the last of his four green jackets in 2005 and conjured some nostalgic feelings Thursday as he held a share of the first-round lead for three holes before a bogey on 17 brought him back into the pack.
He wound up with a two-under 70, the same score he shot in the first round of his first three Masters victories in 1997, 2001 and 2002. Just once has he done better in the opening round of the tournament. He shot 68 in 2010 on his way to a tie for fourth.
Woods hasn’t been under par after the opening round of a major since the 2014 U.S. Open.
“I feel very good,” he said. “I feel like I played well today and controlled my golf ball all day. I’ve shot this number and won coats, so hopefully I can do it again.”
There’s no indication Woods is past the putting problems that have hounded him of late. In his golden era, when he won 14 major championships in 11 years, he was deadly accurate on the greens, draining just about every putt that was reasonably makeable.
But putts that were once automatic are now dicey. That was the case on Nos. 5 and 17, where he missed par putts from five and nine feet. Although that’s understandable on the slippery greens of Augusta, it’s also ominous for someone looking to collect his first victory in a major since 2008.
Woods birdied Nos. 2, 9, 13 and 14.
On the par-five second hole, he blasted his third shot out of a green-side bunker to four feet, then made the putt.
On the par-four ninth, he hit a 116-yard approach as if he were throwing lawn darts, stopping the ball five feet from the cup.
Woods had a 305-yard drive on the par-five 13th, setting up a long approach to the back of the green and a two-putt.
That put him one shot off the lead, and he took a share of it on the next hole when he hit over the trees on his approach, then made a 25-foot putt.
Woods had a hiccup on the par-five 15th when he hit over the green on his second shot, then came up short on his chip back. He was able to get up and down for par, however.
He said he’s feels good about enduring the four-day grind in pursuit of a fifth green jacket.
“The whole idea is to try and peak four times a year,” Woods said. “And so I feel like my body’s good and my game’s good. It’s sharp. I just got to go out there and execute and do the proper things, so if I do miss, I miss in a proper spot.”
Devon Bling, an amateur from UCLA, finished the first round at two over after a double-bogey on 18. He hit his tee shot behind a tree on the left, his second shot behind one on the right, and then three-putted when he finally got on the green.
Nicklaus not a ban fan
Not everyone agrees with the cellphone ban at Augusta National. “I think they will probably change that shortly,” predicted Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters winner. “Maybe I’m speaking out of turn, but the cellphone has become fairly common with every tournament, the PGA Tour … I understand exactly what’s going on here, and I respect that. But I think that times have changed, and it sometimes takes longer to get things to change with it. But you know, not my call.”