Jeev starts with a 71 at Masters

April 10th, 2009 - 12:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Tiger Woods Augusta (Georgia), April 10 (IANS) Playing alongside the world’s best golfer, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh held his nerve and went just one shot over Tiger Woods in the first round of the Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club.
The Indian ace shot a one-under 71 and was tied 28th while Woods hit a 70 in the first round here Thursday.

On a day when the Augusta National was kind and generous with inviting pin positions, Jeev hoped to finish better than the tied 28th, but said he would take it and try to improve on it in the second round.

“I’m pretty happy with the way I played except for the last which left a bad taste in my mouth. But overall, I played pretty good. I made a few mistakes on the back nine but it’s just the first day and we’ll take it from there,” said Jeev, who is playing his third straight Masters and is hoping to improve his best finish of tied 25th last year.

Asian Tour No. 1 Jeev looked set for a 70, but a last hole bogey just like Woods left him dissatisfied at the end. Earlier Jeev gave the crowds a lot to cheer with a perfect second shot with a 3-iron to set up an eagle, which he duly nailed on the par-5 13th.

Asian Tour’s best for the day was the 43-year-old Thai Prayad Marksaeng who overcame a triple bogey early in his round by shooting six birdies for his solid start.

American Chad Campbell who had a record five birdies in a row led with a superb 65 and was one clear of Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

Jeev, who had opened with a similar 71 last year, admitted to nervousness as a huge crowd followed the marque group with Woods and Stewart Cink, who once beat Jeev in a matchplay encounter. Woods was playing his first Major since the US Open last year.

But once the butterflies settled with five straight pars, Jeev showed some solid play.

“It was tough when I was starting out and you’re a little nervous. But after that it was fine. Tiger was very nice and made me comfortable. I’ll try to better the score tomorrow and see what comes my way,” said Jeev.

Jeev’s first birdie came on the sixth hole from five feet and he stayed at one-under through the first stretch. On the 10th he gave the shot back after landing in the greenside trap.

He again recovered and then a brilliant 3-iron approach set him up for eagle on the par five 13th hole. However, he failed to cash in further as he dropped a bogey which he later admitted was a mistake. He had a 9-iron second shot to the pin from the middle of the fairway, but still dropped a shot.

He made up with a second birdie on 17th, but immediately gave it back with wayward drive to the left amongst the pine trees on the 18th and failed to save par from the greenside.

Assessing his 14th hole, Jeev admitted: “I shouldn’t have gone for the flag on 14th. I made a management error there. I was looking at birdie and to move off with a bogey hurts. I got greedy and paid the price.”

Among other Asians Prayad Marksaeng stood out with a three-under 69 that tied him alongside Padraig Harrington in tied 14th.

Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang, playing alongside 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, signed for a 77 in his Major debut. Lin had three birdies against four bogeys but made costly double bogeys on 10 and 12 to leave himself with an uphill task of making Friday’s halfway cut.

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