Tiger Woods makes rousing return at U.S. Masters
AUGUSTA: It was a rousing return to happier times for Tiger Woods on Thursday as the disgraced world number one rode the support of cheering fans to surge into contention in the U.S. Masters first round.
No-one, particularly an anxious Woods, could have been sure of the crowd''s reception on his return from self-imposed exile after revelations about his tawdry extra-marital affairs.
However, Woods could not have dreamed of a warmer welcome or better score from his first competitive golf in 144 days.
Playing under crushing scrutiny, it was a remarkable display by the American who finished with a pair of personal Masters firsts, including a four-under 68, marking the first time in 16 trips to Augusta that he had broken 70 in the opening round.
His round also included two eagles -- another personal best at Augusta -- helping him to finish two strokes behind leader Fred Couples.
More than his sparkling play, however, it was the glowing reception that proved most satisfying for Woods.
"It was unbelievable all day, the people I haven''t heard them cheer this loud in all my years here," said Woods. "It helped me keep my spirits up.