AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The masses spread out across Augusta National believed, roaring gleefully from the time Tiger Woods stepped on the first tee until he trudged up the 18th hole, using his wedge to help brace his steps along the way. At a time sports heroes are in short supply, theirs was on full display and easy to spot in a bright pink shirt, as if anyone needed any help.

More importantly, Woods himself believed. And on a day many thought they would never see, he probably needed it even more.

The 1-under 71 Woods shot Thursday in the first round of the Masters was a long grind that barely got him on the leaderboard. The odds of him being in contention on Sunday afternoon are still very long.

But for one day, at least, the leg shattered 14 months ago in a car accident held up in one of the toughest walks in golf. For one day, at least, Woods proved he could do the near impossible and compete again on the biggest stage in golf.

The swing looked great, and the limp wasn’t bad. If it wasn’t exactly the Woods of old, it was a pretty good approximation.

That was good enough for the fans. And, judging from the look on Woods’ face afterward, it was more than good enough for him.