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Spieth in his comfort zone, leads by two strokes at Masters

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Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker to the second green during the first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta Ga. Woods shot a 1-over-par 73 and sits seven strokes behind first-round leader Jordan Spieth. (Curtis Compto

"It's the same thing", Woods said.

"That would've been on the f-- green", he groused.

In Thursday's opening round, Kuchar almost did it again, this time rolling his tee shot to within two feet for a birdie - one of four birdies he had in his final six holes for an opening round of 4-under 68, leaving him just two shots back of leader Jordan Spieth. Given him credit for this: He fought back for a pair of birdies on Nos. Billy Casper had a 14 on the par-3 16th in 2005, but failed to turn his card after he shot 105.

Not bad. But for a man who sounded like he was ready to compete here for his first major victory since in nearly a decade, it wasn't especially good, either. And that, along with Garcia's earnest attempts to describe the horrifying calamity that befell him Thursday, makes him even more likeable than when he won the green jacket past year. "I'm not surprised that someone shot that", said McIlroy of Spieth's 66, which means the young Texan has now led after nine of the 17 tournament rounds he has played at Augusta.

"I just hit some really solid iron shots on that back nine to go with just some solid, inside of 10, 12 feet, putting". Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic with two clutch shots - a wedge and a 5-wood.

Although the 80 from seven years ago still gets brought up when discussing his history at Augusta, the 28-year-old has been a constant in the top 10 over the last four years. If he were to win this tournament, he said, it wouldn't even qualify as the greatest comeback of all time in golf.

But everyone sure did buy into the narrative.

"I felt Sunday-type pressure in the middle of the back nine", he said. It's such a hard golf course to play catch up on.

Race to Dubai victor Fleetwood birdied two par fives but was two over when he had a seven-foot eagle chance at the 15th.

Woods has been gone for so long that he says it's been almost three years since he putted on bent grass like that at Augusta National.

Woods had the typically huge gallery following him to start the tournament.

"That was the difference in the round", he said. Now 95, Burke watched the telecast of Thursday's round from the Champions Golf Club in Houston, which he helped start.

That charge, unfortunately, never materialized.

Spain's Sergio Garcia endured a nightmare start in his bid to join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to successfully defend the Masters crown. To be fair to Garcia that was a bad break, there was very little wrong with that approach but Augusta can be a cruel mistress. There was Phil Mickelson's birdie-and-bogey roller-coaster ride. Since then, he is 9-over at No. 11, with only two birdies. He made five straight birdies, a career best for him in the majors. To be in this position I'm at now; when I woke up this morning, nothing short of a miracle if you ask me. "I wasn't jittery, I wasn't any of that stuff".

"But I'll always have a tremendous amount of confidence out here".

"I felt like the ball was going to stop", Garcia said.

The 28-year-old then appeared to pop the dislocated ankle back into place, before later undergoing X-rays and an MRI scan, which thankfully revealed a high ankle sprain but no significant damage.

Woods isn't satisfied with just competing, though. McIlroy needs only a victory at Augusta National to become the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.

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