Tiger Woods gets warm welcome on return at US Masters
THE MASTERS Venue: Augusta National Date: 8-11 April Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, High Definition, Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and online (UK only); text commentary online and on mobile phones
Woods plays his first shot on returning to competitive action
Tiger Woods admitted he was spurred on by the crowd's reaction as he made his return to golf at the Masters.
Woods is playing his first tournament in five months after a self-imposed absence following the disclosure of a string of extra-marital affairs.
"It was unbelievable all day," said the 34-year-old, who shot a first-round 68 to lie two shots off the lead.
"I've not heard them cheer this loud in all my years and it helped keep my spirit up in tough conditions."
Despite being away from competitive golf since November and doubts about how he would cope with the battering his previously untarnished image has taken, Woods looked like he had never been away as he carded his best ever opening round at the Masters.
"I felt good," he added after making it into the clubhouse on four under par. "It was really good just to get out there and get into my rhythm and go about my business."
Unbelievable reception from crowd - Tiger Woods (UK users only)
Before the tournament Britain's Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion, had said Woods could struggle to make the cut after such a long period away.
And Woods admitted even he was surprised by how well he had played on his return to action.
"I'm a little bit [surprised]," he added. "I would have thought a couple under would be a good start. Even though it was windy the golf course could be had today."
BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts in Augusta earlier said some fans jeered Woods en route to the first tee at the Augusta National.
"As he made his way through a funnel of people a sizeable number of boos rang out," he said. "But on the tee Woods received more support and the positive cheers outnumbered the detractors.
"He then launched a thunderous drive to more shouts of encouragement and doffed his cap to the gallery as he set off up the first to rejoin his golf career."
The American has come in for enormous criticism since revelations about his infidelity last year.
The scandal came to light after Woods crashed his car into a fire hydrant and a tree near his Florida home on 27 November.
The four-times Masters winner released a statement claiming the matter would remain private but kiss-and-tell stories from a number of women soon prompted him to admit: "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."
Several high-profile sponsors announced they were ending their links with the star as the golfing world came to terms with the revelations about the sport's most high-profile name.
He then took the decision to take a prolonged break from the game to attempt to save his marriage to wife Elin - a former Swedish model.
Woods faced the media at a press conference on Monday for the first time since his affairs became public, admitting that he was "blown away" by the positive reception he received from fans, and pledged to rebuild his image.
However, Woods came in for stinging criticism from Augusta chairman Billy Payne on Wednesday.
"He disappointed all of us," Payne said. "Our hero did not live up to his expectations of the role model we saw for our children.
"We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here on Thursday in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner."
Controversy over Tiger Woods ad
Woods's issued an apology for his actions during a tightly controlled news conference in February, but was criticised for not allowing questions from the press.
On Thursday a bizarre new commercial from Nike - one of Woods' sponsors that have retained his services - was released.
It shows Woods staring into the camera with a voice reported to be of his dead father talking to him, appearing to come from beyond the grave.
Woods will be hoping his return to the golf course will go a long way to helping put the toughest challenge in his stellar career behind him.
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