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The Sports Matrix: Friday 6 April 2012

Woods left ruing 'worst swings ever' in opening round

Tiger Woods was left bemoaning "some of the worst swings I've ever hit" as he struggled to a level-par first round at Augusta yesterday.

But harsh as the former world No 1's verdict on himself was, Woods' battling 72 saw him only three shots behind the early clubhouse leaders Paul Lawrie – the 1999 Open champion who rolled back the years – the Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Italy's Francesco Molinari.

Woods arrived at Augusta with his first Tour win in two years fresh in his mind and entertaining hopes of winning a fifth Green Jacket, but his driving let him down, causing bogeys on 17 and 18. But overall Woods could not be too disappointed with his effort.

Woods was in good company with his hooked drive from the daunting 18th tee – earlier Henrik Stenson, the then trailblazer at five-under, dragged his ball to the same place but with dire, quadruple-bogey eight consequences. A stab, a topped shot, a duffed chip and three putts later, Stenson had not just blown the lead but disappeared from the leaderboard altogether. MORE

Pietersen ton puts England in control

Kevin Pietersen's 151 in Colombo yesterday took England to a first-innings lead of 185 over Sri Lanka in the second Test, which they must win to stay world No 1. But controversy marred his innings – he was warned by umpires for trying to play his switch hit. MORE

Mancini would have hit Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini yesterday revealed one of his most frank discussions with striker Mario Balotelli yet, telling of the time when he told him: "If you played with me 10 years ago, I give to you every day maybe one punch in your head." MORE

U-21 reserve league given green light

The Premier League is to relaunch the current reserve team competitions as a national under-21s league, i has learned. The new league aims to resolve the problem in the English game of the best young talent not playing enough competitive football. MORE

More records for British cyclists

The British trio of Dani King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell produced the two fastest times in the history of women's pursuiting to win Britain's third gold of the World Track Championships in Melbourne yesterday. "Bring on the Olympics," King said. MORE

Dalglish rallies his beleaguered team

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish yesterday called on his players to sweat their way out of the club's worst run of results in 59 years, six defeats in their last seven league games. "The only way to correct it is to work as hard as we possibly can," he said. MORE

Rangers' debts 'could top £134m'

Rangers' administrators estimate that their total debts could top £134m, in a report to creditors published on the club's website. The report also reveals that Rangers owe £3.3m to 12 clubs, including Celtic, Manchester City and Arsenal. MORE

Debutants falter at Trent Bridge

Worcestershire ended the first day of the new season with a narrow lead against Nottinghamshire at the Trent Bridge after closing on 130, 12 runs ahead. Notts' new signings Michael Lumb (3) and James Taylor (4) mustered only seven runs between them. MORE

Craig's open letter on Bath decline

Bruce Craig, the owner of Bath, took the unusual step of writing an open letter to the Recreation Ground faithful. "It hurts to be in this position," he wrote, with his team in languishing in eighth place, and described the campaign as "disappointing". MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

If sport is just another mirror of life, it was maybe appropriate that the first reflection of Tiger Woods here yesterday was seriously cracked. What he gave us was something flawed but also at times quite jewel-like. MORE

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