Masters 2012 Leaderboard: Early Impressions of Tiger Woods and Top Golfers

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterApril 5, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods looks on during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There is still a lot of golf left to be played at Augusta National in the coming days, but the first round is steadily progressing, and the leaderboard for the 2012 Masters is beginning to take shape.

At present, Sweden's Henrik Stenson is atop the leaderboard at five-under. He made a lot of noise at majors between 2008 and 2010, but no doubt many are surprised to see him playing so well early on at the Masters.

Nobody should be surprised, though. If we learned anything from the 2011 Masters, it's that anybody can win this tournament.

But hey, the big-name players have a shot, too. Here's a rundown of how some of the best players in the world are looking so far at Augusta. 

Note: Head on over to Masters.com for a full look at the leaderboard.

Tiger Woods

So far, Tiger's looking pretty good, as he's at two-under through 15 holes. That ties him for fifth overall and places him just a couple of strokes off the lead.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Tiger Woods hits a tee shot on the fourth hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tiger's start wasn't perfect, as he blasted his first two tee shots well off the fairway. Despite that, he managed to save par on each of his first two holes to avoid a disastrous start. He then birdied the par-four third.

The fact that Tiger was able to save par on those first couple of holes is an encouraging sign for him, and a scary sign for the rest of the field. If Tiger can save par when his tee shots are going all over the place, just imagine what he'll be able to do later in the tournament once he's used to the course.

Don't expect Tiger to make a run at the top of the leaderboard in the holes he has left. The burst will come in the final two rounds. All he's doing today is feeling out the course. So far, so good.


Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy got off to a very tough start in his first round, as he notched a double-bogey on the par-four first.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Yikes.

However, things could be a lot worse for McIlroy. He managed to birdie the par-five second, and he's still at one-over through four holes.

It's still way too early to tell what his game is going to look like this weekend, but there is some cause for concern.

Remember, McIlroy took nearly a full month off from golf before heading to Augusta National. That first hole is a sign that he's going to have to shake off the rust.


Luke Donald

When majors roll around, we're typically talking about Luke Donald underachieving.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Luke Donald of England looks on during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

So far at the Masters, Donald is staying true to form. He's at four-over through 14 holes, tied for 77th overall.

Donald started his day with a bogey on the first hole. Then he bogeyed three of the last five holes to finish out the front nine. 

That's just Luke Donald being Luke Donald. There was some buzz before the tournament that he was primed to snap his winless streak at majors, but that's nothing out of the ordinary.

At this rate, Donald is going to need to get hot to avoid missing the cut.


Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood is another guy with a tendency to disappoint at majors, but so far, he's looking pretty good.

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05:  Lee Westwood of England and his caddie Billy Foster stand on the fairway during the first round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty I
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Through seven holes, Westwood is at three-under. He's birdied each of his last three holes, going from the middle of the pack to second place, where he is tied with several others.

This is a scary thought for the rest of the field. Westwood is always competitive at majors, but what we're seeing so far at Augusta National is a hot version of Westwood. If he stays hot, he's just as big a threat to win the Masters as guys like Tiger and McIlroy.

Keep in mind that it's just a matter of time before Westwood wins a major. That time may be now.


Hunter Mahan

Hunter Mahan came into the Masters as a trendy pick to win it, which is typically the case when it comes to the winner of the Shell Houston Open. Last year, it was Phil Mickelson. This year, it's Hunter Mahan. And so on.

A picture of Mahan from Thursday.
A picture of Mahan from Thursday.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

But so far, Mahan is making good on the hype. He's only through four holes, but he's birdied two of them to move to two-under. At present, that ties him for fifth.

Mahan is a legit threat to win the Masters this year. He missed the cut last year, but he finished tied for 10th in 2009 and tied for eighth in 2010. He can handle Augusta, and he's clearly carried over the momentum he established in the Shell Houston Open.

So, here's a hint: Don't let Mahan out of your sights.

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