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The Masters: Tiger Woods impresses with opening-round 71 in return to action at Augusta National

Woods made a strong start to his bid for a record-equalling sixth Masters victory and 16th major title; watch The Masters throughout the week exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf, with bonus feeds available via the red button

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Tiger Woods rolled back the years and produced a magical round on day one of the 2022 Masters

Tiger Woods marked his first competitive start in over 16 months with an eventful opening-round 71 on his long-awaited return to action at The Masters.

Woods was making his first appearance in a top-level event since playing at Augusta National in November 2020, with this week's event an eagerly anticipated comeback after suffering career-threatening injuries in a serious car crash last February.

The 15-time major champion showed flashes of his brilliant best as he mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the opening day, delayed by 30 minutes due to bad weather, leaving Woods within three strokes behind early clubhouse leader Cameron Smith.

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Tiger Woods got his 2022 Masters underway with fans flocking to the first tee to watch his tee shot

"I had a terrible warm-up session," Woods admitted. "I hit it awful. I forgot whatever I did on the range and just go ahead and play shot for shot, hit the ball in the correct spot, commit to what I'm doing, leave myself in the right angles, hopefully make a few putts, and let's get after this thing.

"Yeah, I was able to do that. I was able to finish up in the red. I'm only three back. I'm right where I need to be."

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Tiger Woods says there is still a long way to go after carding an opening round of one-under par in his first competitive start in over 500 days

Woods recovered from a wide opening drive and finishing short of the green with his approach to hole a 10-footer to save par at the first, with the five-time Masters champion missing an outside birdie look from 20 feet at the par-five next and two-putting from the fringe for a par at the third.

The 46-year-old continued his run of pars at the fourth and the next, where his 15-foot birdie attempt span out at the last moment, before firing his tee shot to tap-in range at the par-three next to move under par for his round.

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Tiger Woods made his first birdie of the 2022 Masters with an incredible tee shot on the par 3 sixth hole at Augusta

Woods produced a superb up-and-down save from over a bunker at the seventh but dropped a shot at the par-five next, where two poor chip shots were followed by a two-putt from 10 feet for the first bogey of the tournament.

The former world No 1 pulled his tee shot into trees at the ninth but scrambled from just off the green to avoid dropping a shot, as playing partner Joaquin Niemann posted a hole-out eagle from the fairway to reach the turn one ahead.

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Joaquin Niemann holes out at the 9th to take the lead at The Masters

Woods got up and down from short of the putting surface to start his back nine with successive pars and added another at the par-three 12th, with a brilliant approach into the par-five next setting up a two-putt birdie from 25 feet and taking him back into red figures.

A magnificent approach from the pines to the back of the green at the 14th was followed by a loose chip and missed par-save attempt, with Woods also unable to take advantage of the par-five next, although he produced a huge roar from the Augusta patrons by holing a 30-foot birdie at the 16th.

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Tiger Woods holed a long-range birdie putt to get back to one-under par on the 16th!

Woods made a par at the 17th and produced an unlikely save at the last after leaving his second shot some 70 yards short of the green, rolling in from 10 feet to stay in touch with the early lead.

"I am as sore as I expected to feel," Woods added. "Like I was telling the team all week, come game time, it will be a different deal. My adrenaline will kick in. I'll get into my own little world, and I'll get after it. It's about the training that we've done to have the stamina to go.

"I'm going to be sore, yes. That's just the way it is. But the training cycles that we've had to make sure that I have the stamina to keep going -- and this is only one round. We've got three more to go. There's a long way to go and a lot of shots to be played."

Watch The Masters this week exclusively live on Sky Sports Golf, with additional feeds and bonus action during all four rounds available via the red button.

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