It's impossible to overstate the importance of the first tee shot at the Masters on Tiger Woods' psyche.
"I promise you he has been thinking about that tee shot since he got to Augusta National," said John Cook, a close friend of Woods'.
"He has had trouble with that first tee shot."
Last year, Woods hit a snap hook off that tee - then another on the second hole - and his body language said his Masters campaign was over. He never recovered, limping home in a tie for 40th, his worst ever finish at the year's first major.
So despite the three wins this season and the fact that he's regained the No. 1 world ranking and came to Augusta as the favorite, there was apprehension on an overcast Thursday as Woods stepped to the tee.
With girlfriend Lindsey Vonn looking on - a soft brace on her surgically repaired right knee made walking difficult, but she was determined to watch her man - Woods selected not his driver on the long, uphill par 4, but a new 3 wood that he'd just put in his ...