Tiger Woods forced to share Augusta spotlight

11:27, Apr 12 2013
Masters 2013
World No 3 Justin Rose takes a shot during practice.
Masters 2013
18-time major winner and six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus plays in the Par 3 contest.
Masters 2013
Rory McIlroy and girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki share a laugh during the Par 3 contest.
Masters 2013
14-year-old Tianlang Guan of China shakes hands with Angel Cabrera during the Par 3 contest.
Masters 2013
John Merrick's son Chase gets someone putting practice in while dad plays in the Par 3 contest.
Masters 2013
Tiger Woods makes a putt during practice.
Masters 2013
Luke Donald plays a shot during practice.
Masters 2013
Defending champion Bubba Watson gets some chipping practice in ahead of the Masters.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia of Spain hits from a sand trap on the 17th green during first round play in the 2013 Masters golf tournament.
Francesco Molinari
Francesco Molinari of Italy hits from a sand trap in the seventh hole during first round play in the 2013 Masters.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters.
Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits a shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2013 Masters.
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a shot onto the 13th green during the first round of the 2013 Masters.
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson hits a fairway shot on the third hole as light rain falls during the second round at The Masters.
Masters 2013
Fred Couples makes a chip onto the green during the second round.
Masters 2013
Jason Day lines up a putt in front of the leaderboard.
Masters 2013
Marc Leishman tees off during the second round.
Masters 2013
Ian Poulter manages to get himself out of a spot of trouble.
Masters 2013
Tiger Woods follows his putt during round two at Augusta.
Masters 2013
Brandt Snedeker has plenty to smile about after his third round.
Masters 2013
Australian Adam Scott ponders his next move.
Masters 2013
Lee Westwood chips a shot over a bank.
Masters 2013
Tiger Woods looks relieved after finishing his third round.
Guan Tianlang gallery
Fourteen-year-old Guan Tianlang of China hits a shot during his final round at the Masters.
Jason Day gallery
Jason Day celebrates after holing out from the bunker on the second hole during the final round of the Masters.
Angel Cabrera gallery
Angel Cabrera unleashes a tee shot.
Brandt Snedeker gallery
Brandt Snedeker plays a shot as the crowd take shelter from the drizzle.
Adam Scott
Adam Scott celebrates with Kiwi caddie Steve Williams after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole.
Adam Scott gallery
Adam Scott and caddie Steve Williams celebrate after Scott sinks the winning putt on the second playoff hole.
Adam Scott
Adam Scott (left) receives his green jacket from the 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson.

Tiger Woods got his Masters campaign off to a solid start but the world number one was forced to share the Augusta spotlight.

When first round action began it seemed for a moment as if the 14-times major winner was part of girlfriend Lindsey Vonn's 'Vonn-tourage' as hundreds of media and thousands of spectators scrambled to catch glimpse of the Olympic skiing champion.

As Vonn sightings surfaced a bizarre buzz swept across Augusta National adding some celebrity intrigue to the year's first major.

Lindsey Vonn
SHARING SPOTLIGHT: Lindsey Vonn, girlfriend of Tiger Woods, watches first round play at the 2013 Masters in Augusta.

While Vonn's appearance created a distraction for the galleries, Woods remained focused on the task at hand and mixed three birdies with a single bogey for an opening two-under 70 to sit just four back of co-leaders Marc Leishman of Australia and Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

It was a good omen for Woods, who shot 70 in the opening round in three of his four Masters wins. Only once in 19 Masters has Woods started with a score lower than 70.

"It's a good start," summed up Woods. "Some years some guys shot 65 starting out here. But right now I'm only four back and I'm right there.

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"It was a good day. A solid day."

It also appeared to be a very good day out for Vonn, who is recovering from knee surgery but made the trip to Augusta to support her boyfriend.

A smiling Vonn, sporting a wide brimmed hat, tan sun dress and a leg brace, made her way down the first fairway to watch Woods tee off then, according to reports, retreated to one of the hospitality areas to ice her knee and drink a glass of "chilled champagne."

It marked the first public appearance for the sports world's newest power couple since announcing last month that they were dating.

With the world number one ranking back beside his name and three PGA Tour wins from five starts this season, including his final two Masters tune-up events, Woods arrived at Augusta as betting favourite to add a fifth green jacket to his collection.

Anyone backing Woods this week will not be disappointed in his workmanlike effort during the opening round, which included three birdies and one bogey.

Woods's surge back to the top of the world rankings last month was supported by a sizzling putter which he just could not get firing on Thursday on Augusta's tricky greens.

"I thought the greens were a little bit tough ... they didn't have the roll out," said Woods. "A couple of putts, we were talking about it in our group, that just weren't that fast.

"The wind picked up in the middle part of the round. Got a little bit swirly there at Amen Corner, as usual.

"But overall I think the biggest challenge today was just the speed of the greens. They just weren't quite there."

Reuters