Woods fired a two-under 70 on Thursday at Augusta National and sits four strokes behind co-leaders Marc Leishman and Sergio Garcia.
Woods first highlighted his with a beautiful approach to the par-three sixth hole, where he stuffed his tee shot to about five feet before burying it for his first birdie.
As he has done frequently during his reigns of dominance, Woods capitalized on the par fives relatively well, birdieing No. 8 and easily managing another at No. 13 with a two-putt.
Tiger Woods birdies 13 to get to -3. Woods had 0 birdies, 8 pars on the two back-9 par 5's last year.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2013
Since 2000, only 8 major winners of 52 (15.3%) had lead/co-lead after 1st round. Only 1 Masters winner since 1985 has (Immelman in 2008).— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 11, 2013
Woods never remedied a three-putt bogey on No. 14, but Shane Bacon of Yahoo! Sports provided an interesting, humorous theory as to why he faded slightly down the stretch:
Tiger Woods is now just sandbagging so he can post a first round 70. Three of his four wins at Augusta had him 2-under after day one.— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) April 11, 2013
What position will Tiger Woods be in entering Masters weekend?
Despite the ideal start, it is worth noting that Woods has not won at Augusta since 2005, finishing in the top six each year thereafter until a disappointing tie for 40th the last time around.
It was a stellar round overall for Woods, although some unfortunate language on the opening shot of Masters.com coverage may cast a slight shadow over his strong showing (h/t The Big Lead).
Such is to be expected from the hyper-competitive Woods, whose approach to the par-four 11th from the right rough somehow checked up well short of the pin. That was the cause of the nonchalant profanity.
From tee to green, Woods was exceptional, hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and nine of 14 fairways. His putting could have been slightly better, though, as he took 30 strokes.
Olympic gold medalist skier Lindsey Vonn was spotted on the grounds in support of Woods, who she is dating (h/t Bleacher Report):
Woods told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi on ESPN's telecast that he was satisfied with his play after the opening round:
I thought I putted well today. I left myself some pretty good little par saves and I was able to make those. You got to continue hitting greens and continue putting the ball in the right spots. I didn't leave myself the easiest of putts today.
This golf course is gonna change dramatically by tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon it's going to be very, very different than it is right now. I just got to make the adjustments.
The intimidation factor Woods once brought to the table may not be as prevalent, but there is no question he is playing the best, most consistent golf on the planet thus far in 2013.
Woods figures to be in the heat of contention during the weekend, as he is just outside the top 10 of a jam-packed leaderboard. Below is a look at the top performers in the early going.