Woods group a good Masters test: Leishman

Woods group a good Masters test: Leishman

They are all chasing Jordan Spieth at Augusta again.

He has some catching up to do.

Jordan Spieth made a back-nine rush and took the first-round lead.

His brilliant six-under-par 66 sent him surging to the top of the leaderboard - a position he has occupied in NINE of the 17 rounds he has played at The Masters. That was five strokes off the lead as the first round continued Thursday afternoon at Augusta National.

"It's about riding momentum from last week (finishing third in Houston) and this first round".

In sunny, chilly morning weather, 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh of Fiji set the early pace with three birdies in his first four holes.

When Woods was at his peak, he grinded better than anyone else.

"This course will test you", Woods said. It's really hard to run away from it, but it's also really easy to lose it out there.

The best comeback? That might now belong to Finau.

Finau has emerged as a remarkable leader given he dislocated his ankle celebrating a hole-in-one during the par-3 contest on Wednesday and was a chance of withdrawing from the event. He wasn't sure he could play until tests showed he was cleared to play.

Kuchar had five birdies on the back nine to join him on 68. Try telling Tiger Woods it was just another day at the office. Even as well as Spieth looked, it might be hard for anyone to pull away.

Tiger Woods is in a tie for 29th at 1 over, while defending champion Sergio Garcia is tied for 85th after a 9-over 81 (greatly aided by a shocking 13 at the par-5 15th). The only level shot is tee shots, and then always trying to do something with the golf ball on some sort of slope.

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Leishman, who played alongside Woods, thrived in the spotlight, moving to four-under thorugh 13 holes before finding the water at the par-five 15th on the way to a double bogey.

He has produced plenty of spectacular moments at the Masters - starting with his record-setting first major triumph at the age of 21 in 1997.

Rory McIlroy wanted to get off to a solid start at the Masters, his latest shot at a career Grand Slam.

And former Open champion Henrik Stenson celebrated his 42nd birthday in style by joining McIlroy in a seven-strong group on three under which also included Patrick Reed, Rafa Cabrera Bello and China's Li Haotong.

Rickie Fowler was 2 under, and Justin Rose was at even-par.

From there, Garcia went to the drop area where he hit four more wedge shots that came back into the water, finally getting a fifth attempt on the green and 1-putting for a 13.

Woods came up just short at the par-3 fourth, landing his tee shot in the bunker, and was unable to get up and down for par.

The next two holes, Tiger ripped absolutely outstanding drives.

Woods made a bogey from the fringe on 12 that he absolutely had to have. His approach barely hung onto the right side of the green, but he sunk the long putt to card a safe 4.

In one sense, he was happy to be playing.

Spieth's showing was reminiscent of the stunning opening 18 holes he played three years ago where a 64 contributed to his wire-to-wire victory that matched the record low score for victory. At the start of Amen Corner on 11, Woods hit his drive so far right that he was begging for it to go "way right" just to get out of the trees.