And with Woods (-4), Kuchar (-2) and Choi (-5) shaking hands to signal the end of their round, I'll give all you readers a collective shake of the hand to signal the end of this blog.
Thanks so much for everyone who followed along today. It was my honor and pleasure to bring everyone a historic day of golf. Tomorrow the tournament gets turned up a notch, with the golfers vying for the top spots on the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
We'll be here to give you all the comings and going of Woods and all the other golfers, so be sure to join us bright and early.
Okay, that's all for tonight. Thanks again for joining us. See ya Friday morning!
18th Hole: And we'll finish up the day at the 465-yard par 4 Holly. Kuchar found the rough and had to take a drop, but Tiger was in the center of the fairway. He spun his approach to within about 20 feet, where he two-putted for par to finish with a first-round 68, which is nearly four strokes better than his average on the first day of the tournament.
17th Hole: The 425-yard par 4 named Nandina was status quo for Woods, as he planted his approach shot on the green and two-putted for par. He remains at -4 with one hole to play.
*Couples' first-round 66 is his lowest score at the Masters.
**Also, with a birdie on the 16th, Choi moves to -5, joining the group of Watson, Westwood, Mickelson and Yang one shot behind Couples.
16th Hole: Headed for the backstretch in the first day of the 2010 Masters, Woods used a eight-iron on the 170-yard par 3 Redbud, which is played over water. He played it over the pin onto the green, about 35 feet or so away. He narrowly missed the putt to the left and tapped in for a par, which he appeared to be disappointed about. He remains -4, two behind Couples, who's in the clubhouse.
15th Hole: Onto the 530-yard par 5 Firethorn for Kuchar, Choi and Woods, who easily reached the green in two. His putt for eagle went down, and Tiger acknowledged the cheers from the crowd with a wave as he moved to -4, two shots off Couples for the lead.
It was Woods' first time with two eagles in the same round.
14th Hole: Ho-hum, another fairway drive on the 440-yard par 4 Chinese Fir for Tiger, who has never shot an opening round in the 60s at Augusta. But the only hole without a bunker proved to be an unsuccessful one, as a poor second shot led to a bogey (he missed the putt to save par by about an inch to the left).
Woods is now at -2, which is four shots behind the new leader, Fred Couples, who birdied the 17th to take sole possession of the top spot.
13th Hole: Tiger's drives have looked good for the most part today, and that trend continued at the par 5, 510-yard Azalea, where he knocked it dead center off the tee. His second shot found the large part of the green and caught a slight slope that brought it within about 17 feet of the pin. His eagle putt just lipped off the left side of the cup, forcing him to tap in for birdie to move to 3-under, two behind the leaders.
In his career at the Masters, Tiger is -35 on the 13th, his best score on any hole. He's never had two eagles in the same round at the Masters (he eagled the eighth earlier today).
*Fred Couples has joined the group of four leaders at -5 with a birdie on the 14th.
**He and Choi shared a laugh on the walk to the 14th, and they seemed to be discussing a little strategy.
12th Hole: The shortest hole at Augusta, the 155-yard Golden Bell was a tease for Tiger. He used a nine-iron to get within a mere eight feet of the hole (he actually) flirted with a hole-in-one). But his birdie putt just lipped out around the right side of the cup and he was forced to take a par, leaving him at -2 for the day.
His last birdie at the 12th was back in 2005.
11th Hole: Tiger's temper finally came out on his tee shot at the White Dogwood, the first of two holes in Amen Corner and a 505-yard par 4, the longest par 4 on the course. As his drive flew right, Tiger shot his club down in disgust. But he got a lucky bounce when it knocked off a tree and fell in the first cut just to the right of the fairway.
His second shot landed on the green, but he couldn't convert the uphill putt for birdie (he missed it long) and had to settle for par. Woods remains at -2, three shots behind the leaders.
*After he and Kuchar finished at 11, they got a in quick laugh while chatting as Choi was lining up a putt. As he passed the applauding gallery on his way to the 12th, Woods again doffed his cap in appreciation.
10th Hole: As Tiger passes the turn, he sets up on the 495-yard par 4 Camellia, one of the most difficult holes on the course. His second shot just caught the slope on the front of the green and rolled off. He settled for bogey and fell back to -2.
*Also, Watney bogeyed the 17th and finished with a 4-under 68, one behind the leaders.
9th Hole: Tiger's feeling it now.
A somewhat poor tee shot on the 460-yard par 4 Carolina Cherry left Tiger with a difficult second shot, in which he had to hook the ball around a row of fans and trees on his left. He executed it beautifully (he hopped about six or seven times out into the fairway to view his strong work) and the ball rolled back towards the hole from the top fringe to leave him with a birdie chance. He sank the putt to give him his second birdie of the day. He's at -3 (a 33 for the front nine), just two shots behind the leaders — Watson, Westwood, Mickelson, Yang and Nick Watney.
8th Hole: Tiger's tee shot on the 570-yard par 5 Yellow Jasmine hit the fairway, and then his second knocked off a slight hill on the right side of the green and rolled down within 12 feet of the hole for an Eagle opportunity. He sunk it and then gave his first (subdued) fist pump and a wave to the crowd. He's at -2 for the day, three shots behind the leaders.
Wondering how Tiger's playing partners are doing? Kuchar's at -3 and Choi is at -1. To see the complete leaderboard, click here.
To see some pictures of the first round of the tournament, click here.
7th Hole: Tiger's tee shot on Pampas, the 450-yard par 4, was a low rocket that went left into the first cut. He finished up with his first bogey of the day after leaving a putt to save par short. He's back at Even for the afternoon.
6th Hole: On the 180-yard par 3 Juniper, Tiger knocked his 6-iron within 25 feet for a birdie chance. He again two-putted (he has 10 putts in 22 shots on the afternoon thus far) and remains at -1.
*The reception throughout the early afternoon appears to be favorable for Woods.
5th hole: Tiger's tee shot on the par 4, 455-yard Magnolia went left, but his second shot found the green. He had a very long birdie from the outskirts of the green, which he knocked to about 7 or 8 feet from the hole. He hit the second putt to save par and remain -1 for the day.
*A slight rain has begun to fall at Augusta National.
**One observation about Tiger is that he appears to have stuck to his word about toning down his emotional outbursts after shots. He yelled at his second shot — nothing profane — and he hasn't flung any clubs ... yet.
4th Hole: The first par-3 of the course, the 240-yard Flowering Crab Apple, was a non-story for Tiger. His tee shot went long, but he converted an up-and-down for par and remain at -1. He is four shots behind the leaders, Watson and Westwood (who are both in the clubhouse), Phil Mickelson and Y.E. Yang, who are playing the 17th.
3rd Hole: Again Tiger drove the fairway on the 350-yard par 4 named Flowering Peach. He hit his second shot to within six feet of the hole for another birdie attempt, which he drained to move to 1-under for the day.
*Watson is the oldest leader in a major, 60, since World War II. His 67 tied his lowest round ever at Augusta, where he won in 1977 and 1981. Said Watson after his round: "Needless to say, I'm happy."
2nd Hole: The 575-yard par 5 they call Pink Dogwood, a dogleg left, was a bit tricky for Woods.
He again nailed his drive dead center of the fairway, but his second shot nearly found the bunker to the right of the green, as it sat on the lip of the trap. He chipped onto the green, but missed a 20-foot birdie putt and had to tap in from three feet for par. He's Even for the day.
In other news, Tom Watson birdied the 18th hole and is the leader in the clubhouse with a 5-under 67. Lee Westwood, playing the 16th hole, is one shot back at -4.
Also, ESPN just showed a plane flying over Augusta National carrying a banner that read "Tiger, did you mean Bootyism" in a reference to his return to Buddhist roots.
1st Hole: Tiger received a warm, but not overwhelming, reception from the large crowd at the first tee, and he doffed his cap in appreciation before tightening up the laces on his shoes.
He took some advice from caddie Steve Williams about the wind conditions, put a glove on his left hand, took some practice swings, and then drove his first shot down the middle of the fairway on the 445-yard par 4. He spun the club after he made contact, knowing he had a solid shot.
The Post-Accident Tiger Woods Era has begun.
Kuchar and Choi teed off after Tiger, and then the three went off down the fairway. Kuchar and Tiger chatted it up as they strolled down the way.
Tiger stuck his second shot onto the green on the hole they call Tea Olive, a slight dogleg right, and had a early birdie opportunity. But he two-putted for par — the birdie putt missed about a foot to the left — and will go to the second tee even for the day.
At 1:42 p.m. this afteroon in Augusta, Georgia, Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf in the first time since his world flipped upside down.
The 34-year old is playing in his first tournament in 144 days. His last tournament resulted in a win at the Australian Masters. Little did he know at the time that a car accident outside his Orlando home would change his life forever.
Now we know Tiger's not the best family man. We know he wasn't only practicing his swing on the road. We know his problem was so great he needed to go to rehab for it.
Today, the last two things about this episode will be revealed. One, can Tiger still play golf at a high level? Few believe he can't. And second, how will he be received by the fans? That's a little trickier, but not really.
Think back to Tiger's 14 major victories, especially his four Masters wins. The gallaries have been massive, but voracious? Not really. And let's be honest, Tiger and his camera-grabbing caddie Steve Williams have been the villians on the course from a fan perspective anyway.
Being at the first day of the U.S. Open last year (one of the most loquacious venues on tour), was the first time I'd ever hear fans heckle Tiger. And that was mostly alcohol related.
I'm sure patrons at button-upped Augusta National are more gracious imbibers, if imbibers at all. And they're certainly more golf purists, those who believe in soft claps for nice shots and silence for poor ones.
It's no coincidence Tiger wanted to return for the first major of the season, one he's one four times (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005). Not only will he receive a much warmer reception, but he'll also have another opportunity to inch one step closer to Jack Nicklaus' 18 major titles. Tiger comes into the weekend with 14.
In my humble opinion, no crisis, threat of divorce or public-relation hit would keep him from missing a major tournament. His main focus in life is becoming the world's best golfer and he'll let nothing throw that mission off track.
In just a few moments, we'll begin the trek towards 18 alongside Tiger. The only thing that'll change is our opinion of him as a person. But does he really care? Do we? In the end, it's just golf.
You can keep up with the first-round leaderboard all day long by clicking here.
Right now, the weather conditions are windy and a storm front is expected to move through the area at some point in the next few hours.
In other news, a Nike commercial debuted today with Tiger's face and a voice-over of his late father Earl. It's designed to show a contrite Tiger showing that he's learned from his mistakes. To me, it's just creepy and a too-easy way to exploit the Earl Woods and the morals he taught young Tiger.
-Tiger's wife Elin Nordegren, nor his two children, are expected to be in attendance this weekend.
-At the start of Tiger's round, the leader in the clubhouse is David Toms, who shot a 3-under 69. Sixty-year old Tom Watson is at -4 through 16 holes.