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Late slip costs Gary Woodland even-par opening round at Masters in otherwise solid showing



TOPEKA, Kan. – Going into Thursday’s opening round of the Masters, Gary Woodland had no doubts that Augusta National Golf Club was going to bite back after yielding a tournament record to Dustin Johnson last November.

Justin Rose’s 7-under 65 aside, Woodland was dead on.

Which made the 1-over 73 Woodland posted on Thursday a pretty satisfying performance for the Topeka native. And if not for a late slip, literally, Woodland might have joined the 20 golfers in the 88-player field who posted rounds of even par or better.

“I definitely played better than I scored,” Woodland said via text following his round which has him tied for 21st going into Friday’s second round. “The course played extremely tough.”

As tough as it was, however, Woodland managed to avoid a big number, carding nothing worse than a bogey. And he only made three of those, the last coming on No. 17 when his left foot slipped on his tee shot, sending his drive into the No. 15 fairway.

Woodland nearly recovered from the errant drive, hitting the green with his approach over the pines that divide the two fairways only to see his ball roll back off into the fringe. After numerous up and downs from similar situations throughout his day, he couldn’t do it again and made bogey to put him 1 over.

It was one of only a handful of hiccups he encountered. His other bogeys came at No. 5 when he put his drive in the cavernous left fairway bunker and the other at No. 7 when he three-putted from 65 feet following a tremendous approach after fanning his tee shot nearly into the No. 17 fairway.

But even one of those came with a silver lining as Woodland made a clutch 10-foot putt to avoid a double bogey after his third shot sailed long.

The putter and short game were good to Woodland for the bulk of the round. He averaged 1.67 putts per hole and routinely got up and down from just off the green after seeing approaches rocket off the firm Augusta National greens time and time again.

He mixed in birdies on the par-5 No. 2 when he nearly chipped in for eagle and the par-5 No. 13. A missed opportunity for a third par-5 birdie on No. 15 when he pushed a 7-iron from 201 yard right and couldn’t get up and down.

“The par on 15 and the foot slip on 17 were frustrating,” Woodland said. “But outside of that I was very pleased with my game. I made a couple key putts to keep me in this. It was nice to see key putts go in around here and keep the round together.”

Woodland is in strong position to make the cut for the fifth time in his nine Masters appearances. He sits eight shots behind Rose’s lead, but is only four shots out of second.

Former Kansas State standout Robert Streb, making his second Masters appearance, carded a 3-over 75 and is tied for 52nd. Streb made birdies at 8, 11 and 13, but had a double bogey on No. 9 and four other bogeys.