The Masters 2022: Tiger Woods makes superb start in Augusta National comeback

In his first start since his car crash 14 months ago the 15-time Major Champion astonished the golf world.

Twenty-five years on from his historic first victory in the Masters, Tiger Woods reminded the world that there is no eight ball behind which he can be trapped.

In 1997 he opened his first round at Augusta National as a professional by metaphorically limping to the turn in 40 shots.

By the end of that week he had destroyed the field by 12 strokes.

Ahead of this week he had not played competitively in 14 months, ever since breaking multiple bones in a car crash before undergoing painful surgery and rehabilitation.

The threat this time was that he might limp his way around the course literally as well as metaphorically, but he did neither in compiling an astounding 1-under-par round of 71.

All week patrons on the property and fans around the world have been in thrall to this latest extraordinary return to action for a man who never quits.

Social media was alive with excitement as it became apparent that the galleries were gathering in huge numbers for his first round tee time.

What did we expect? The man himself had said he wouldn't have turned up if he didn't believe he could contend, but surely that seemed inconceivable.

He had a less than 50% record of breaking par in the first round so a certain amount of leeway made absolute sense.

Moreover, the scoring was far from electric early on Thursday.

And yet all that happened in reality was that yet again he proved the doubters wrong.

He opened with five pars and then made birdie at the par-3 sixth; the roars echoed through the trees.

He gave the shot back before the turn and then exchanged two birdies and one bogey on the back nine.

He secured a total in red numbers with a battling par at the last after hoicking his tee shot into the trees (he was a little fortuitous to rebound out of them, but clinical in making the most of the luck).

Perhaps most extraordinary was that he appeared unafraid of testing his body -

"Didn't think that was possible," gasped Andrew Coltart on Sky Sports commentary.

"That was one sensational performance," said Rich Beem. "A work of art."

When he signed his card he was only three blows shy of the clubhouse lead; something surely no-one outside his team would have believed possible.

"I am so proud of my whole team," he said afterwards. "We worked so hard, people have no idea.

"We've never taken a day off since I got out the bed three months after the accident. There were easier days, but we did something every single day.

"There has been lots of treatment, lots of ice baths. A lot of shivering and suffering. It's awful but it allows me to recover. It's a process. I thought it was bad enough after the back, it's worse now.

"I said get me to this point and my adrenalin will kick in. I'll take it from there.

"The opportunity to play in the Masters was huge. Things will change and the course will dry out. It's a marathon but, as of now, I'm only three back."

READ MORE: The Masters A to Z: From Anyone can win it to (Fuzzy) Zoeller via Eerie music and Jim Nantz

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