Masters 2012 Leaderboard: Early Strugglers Sure to Challenge for the Lead

Bob BajekAnalyst IIIApril 6, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks at a putt on the first fairway during the second round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

While it's still a bit early in the Masters, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have all struggled quite a bit. 

That being said, don't expect them to stay down and out as the tournament continues, as these guys are the best golfers on the field.

McIlroy is tied for 15th place after the first day. He is one-under par, but he has a double bogey on the first hole and bogeyed on the 11th and 13th as well.

The 22-year-old Irish golfer won last year's U.S. Open, UBS Hong Kong Open and Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters in a playoff against Anthony Kim.

McIlroy was the youngest golfer to lead the Masters after the first day with a bogey-free seven-under-par 65. McIlroy led through the middle of the final day, but he tanked with a round of 80 on the final nine holes to finish tied for 15th.

McIlroy showed last year he was a contender, and will this year make adjustments to his swing on the Augusta, Georgia course.

As for Woods, he shot a par 72 on the first day. Woods bogeyed on the seventh, 17th and 18th holes, but he did birdie on the third, eighth and 10th.

Woods has won the Masters four times (1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005) and has 14 majors wins, second only to golfing legend Jack Nicklaus' 18. The Tiger also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational to bring in his first PGA win since the 2009 sex scandal.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational win signaled that Tiger is back on the prowl as a force to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, Mickelson had a horrendous opening day. He placed tied for 52nd with a two over par. He bogeyed four times and even had a double bogey on the 10th hole.

That being said, Mickelson is a tough golfer who has four majors wins, including three in the Masters (2004, 2006 and 2010). In addition, he has 40 PGA wins and won this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with an amazing eight-under 64 in the final round.