Tiger Woods watches his shot as he hits out of a bunker on No. 7 in the first round of the Masters on Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo
April 7 (UPI) -- Sungjae Im held a one-shot lead after the opening round of the 2022 Masters Tournament Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
The 24-year-old South Korean rattled off three straight birdies at the start of the day, then recovered from a pair of bogeys with a 12-foot eagle putt on the 13th hole. He added a late birdie on the 15th for a 5-under 67.
Im is the first player representing South Korea to maintain a lead after any round in Masters history. His first-round 67 was the highest score to lead after 18 holes at the Masters since 2014.
"I feel comfortable when I come to Augusta," Im said through his translator. "I feel I can play well here every time."
Im was one shot in front of Cameron Smith, who was playing for the first time since winning The Players Championship in mid-March. The Australian had a double bogey on the first and 18th holes, but he sandwiched eight birdies between his start and finish.
"To be honest, those couple of double bogeys really didn't have too bad a shot in them. It's not like I was scratching it out of the trees," Smith said. "Just misjudged the wind on both wedges. Just left myself in a bit of a tough spot. Other than that, it was just really solid."
Dustin Johnson, who fended off Im and Smith when he won the Masters in November 2020, was tied for third at 3-under par after the first day. Danny Willett, Joaquin Niemann and Scottie Scheffler also ended the round at 3-under 69.
Elsewhere at Augusta National, large crowds followed Tiger Woods throughout the day as he carded three birdies and a first-round score of 1-under par.
Woods carded a 71 in his first PGA Tour round in 17 months, a hiatus caused by the serious leg injuries he sustained in a 2021 single-car crash. He was tied for 10th, just four strokes behind the lead.
The 46-year-old Woods stepped up to the first tee box at about 11 a.m. EDT. He smacked his tee shot 264 yards up the right flank near a fairway bunker on the 445-yard Par 4.
Woods made par on six of his first seven holes. He ripped an iron shot on No. 6 to within two feet of the pin on that 189-yard hole. He then drained his first birdie of the day.
Woods carded a bogey on No. 8 to fall back to even, then made par on his next four holes. Woods used another beautiful approach shot to bag his second birdie on No. 13, a 510-yard Par 5. He two-putted on the green to move to 1-under and into a tie for 10th place.
Woods went on to bogey again on No. 14 and made par on No. 15. He rebounded with a birdie on No. 16 to briefly move into a tie for ninth. Woods carded another par on No. 17. He hit his final drive of the round into the woods on No. 18, but recovered to save par on the Par 4.
Woods was 2-under par and four strokes off the lead after the first round during his 2019 Masters victory. He was seven strokes back of the lead after the first round of his 2005 Masters win.
The second round of the 2022 Masters tees off at 8 a.m. EDT Friday at Augusta. Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Niemann tee off at 1:45 p.m. in Group 29.
The second round will stream from 8:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+ and Masters.com. The TV broadcast will air from 3 to 7:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN.
The top 50 scores and ties through Friday's second round will advance to Saturday's third round, while the other half of the 91-player field is eliminated.
Scottie Scheffler, winner of the 2022 Masters golf tournament, receives his trophy at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on April 10, 2022. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo