October 6 2011
SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the PGA TOUR’s Fall Finish this week at the Frys.com Open. The Californian tees off at 3:10 p.m. ET with Louis Oosthuizen and UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay. PGATOUR.COM is in the scene for the first round and we’ll provide live coverage all day.
Feel free to give us your comments, and check back often to see the most recent updates.
8:01 p.m. ET: Just like the 17th, Woods had a look from just over 12 feet and missed it, this time on the left edge. He had hit a perfect drive with a 3-wood and was left with 117 yards. He tapped in for par and his round of 2-over 73, then told Golf Channel’s Roger Maltbie it was “one of the worst putting rounds I’ve ever had.”
7:45 p.m. ET: Another look at birdie, another missed putt -- this one from just over 12 feet as Woods had to settle for par on the 350-yard 17th (also this week’s Kodak Challenge hole). Woods has made just one putt over 6 feet today and in all has taken 25 putts in all.
7:29 p.m. ET: So much for that birdie giving Woods any sort of positive momentum. He just nuked his tee shot on the par-3 16th over the green and into the rough. He’s hit just seven greens today. On the upside, he pitched to just 4 feet and made the putt to save par with the ball going all the way around the hole and in. Still, at 2 over Woods is going to have some work to do in these last two holes and tomorrow.
6:59 p.m. ET: Woods’ drive at the 15th hole, the 568-yard par 5 which is being the most generous of the day, was accompanied by urgings of “stop, bite” and the ball cooperated, staying on the left side of the fairway.
Woods’ second shot found the front of the kidney-shaped green and just trickled off, leaving him a pitch for eagle. The ball stopped about 5 feet short of the hole and Woods made it – just his second birdie of the day and the first since the opening hole. He’s 2 over now as he heads to the final three holes.
6:43 p.m. ET: The par-4 14th hole is playing 470 yards on Thursday. Woods has made it more difficult on himself, too, as his drive veered into the right fairway bunker, leaving him 226 yards to the hole.
Woods hit a solid shot out, though, and the ball landed just short of the green. Woods chipped to 3 feet and made the putt for another par.
6:28 p.m. ET: Woods shook off the frustration from the last hole and found his fourth fairway at the 13th hole. His second shot landed on the green but couldn’t find the same plateau as the pin, rolling back down the slope to about 15 feet. He two-putted for par.
Tiger's taking huge divots with some of his iron shots. After a replay of LaCava replacing one particularly large chunk of grass, Nobilo remarked: "The last time I saw something that big, it had four legs."
6:12 p.m. ET: The 12th hole is a beast of a par 5 at 605 yards. The rain has begun to fall in earnest, as well, which makes the conditions even more difficult.
Woods’ drive veered into the left rough, leaving him 359 yards to the green, and his second shot disappeared into the hazard. After much discussion with his new caddy, Joe LaCava, Woods took his drop and hit his fourth shot down the left side of the fairway.
Woods had 114 yards to the pin for his fifth shot. The ball caught the upslope on the green and slid away from the hole, leaving him about 42 feet for his bogey. He hit a good putt that stopped about 3 inches left of the hole so Woods made double bogey.
He’s now 3 over for the day.
5:48 p.m. ET: Woods was as interested as the many fans in his gallery at No. 11 after his tee shot at the 236-yard par 3 went tracking to the hole. The ball landed about 4 feet away for a potential birdie. His putting, though, clearly continues to trouble Woods as he sent the ball across the top of the cup and ended up with a par.
As Tiger stood over the short putt, TV analyst Roger Maltbie mentioned that it was a very simple putt. "I'd be very surprised if he weren't to hole this," he said. After Woods missed, Maltbie just said, "Wow."
5:45 p.m. ET: The wind is picking up to the 15-mph range and the skies are ominous here at CordeValle. With bad weather looming, Tiger has gone to the rain pants.
5:30 p.m. ET: Woods made perhaps his best swing of the day at No. 10 but wasn’t rewarded. The ball traveled 314 yards but snaked into the left fairway bunker. He had 119 to the hole but came up short and right, landing on closely mown grass near a native area. Another missed green and another missed fairway.
Woods’ chip checked up and stopped about 12 feet short of the hole. He finally made a putt, though, and came up with a much-needed par save.
5:15 p.m. ET: Woods drew a chorus of “whoos” as he hit his drive 306 yards into the distance at the par-5 ninth -- but the ball strayed into the right rough. Not to worry, Woods hit his second shot back into the fairway and the third landed 5 feet, 8 inches from the pin.
Woods missed the birdie putt, though. He just seems confounded by the speed and break of the greens here, which isn't surprising given that he played the lightning-fast Institute on Tuesday. These greens are much slower and Woods is struggling with the speed.
Cantlay, meanwhile, made his birdie attempt from 10 feet to turn 3 under.
5:03 p.m. ET: TOUR rookie Andres Gonzales, who's been having fun on his Twitter feed this year trying to arrange a practice round with Tiger Woods, just told the Golf Channel: "I don't know if he has any clue who I am." Gonzales opened with a 69 that left him two shots off the lead.
4:48 p.,m. ET: Woods finally found another fairway, confidently reaching down to grab his tee as the ball flew through the air at No. 8. He had 178 yards to the hole and chose an 8-iron but the approach was disappointing, landing about 45 feet right of the hole. At least it was a green in regulation – his first since the opening hole.
As wild has Tiger has been, his mood has been pretty even-keeled so far despite hitting it nothing like he did on the range. He left his first putt 2 feet, 9 inches from the hole and made it for par.
4:45 p.m. ET: All three players find the green at the seventh hole, a 166-yard par 3. Two-putt pars from outside 20 feet send them to the eighth hole with Cantlay 2 under and his two professional playing partners holding steady at 1 over.
4:31 p.m. ET: Another drive; another fairway bunker. Woods has 182 yards to the green. He takes a 6-iron and it trickles off the front edge but he’ll have another potential birdie opportunity from 33 feet.
The first big roar of the day? Well, it wasn't for Tiger. Cantlay, who won a collegiate event at CordeValle last year, rolls his putt in from 35 feet just off the green to move to 2 under. And according to the 19-year-old, the rough was longer then.
Woods’ putt comes up 5 feet short but he makes it for his par.
4:20 p.m. ET: Woods chose a 3-wood off the tee at No. 5, a 454-yard par 4, and proceeded to “fat” it – not unlike he did during THE PLAYERS last year. The divot was probably 6 inches long.
Woods had 213 yards to the green – which was about 50 yards shorter than Oosthuizen, who is not exactly a long hitter -- and his 5-iron rolled onto the back fringe. Woods left his birdie putt on the high side and tapped in for another par.
Cantlay then proceeded to make his first birdie of the day on a 12-footer.
4:07 p.m. ET: Woods’ tee shot at No. 4 found the left rough. He missed the green, as well, but chipped to within 2 feet, 4 inches for his first par of the day.
Four holes, one fairway, one green. Basically Woods' game has been as all over the place as his scorecard. He nearly hit it in the hazard off the tee on No. 4 -- the skies opened up just as he teed off -- but he made a nice recovery from the side-hill lie.
And in case you were wondering, Oosthuizen and Cantlay are even for the day. The steady amateur has made four pars while Oosthuizen bogeyed the first and birdied the second.
4:03 p.m. ET: Ernie Els was just interviewed on Golf Channel. When asked about Tiger's presence at the Frys.com Open this week, he said: "It's great for the TOUR, great for the Fall Series and great for the tournament." Mentioning that Woods went to college just up the road at Stanford, Els said, "He feels very comfortable here."
Like Woods, Els is playing in his first Fall Series event. He opened with a 69 that left him two shots off the lead currently held by Brendan Steele. Els is reunited this week with his long-time caddy Ricci Roberts, who he said is like a brother to him.
3:45 p.m. ET: Woods’ tee shot has strayed left and bounced over the green on the third hole, a par 3 playing about 30 yards shorter than its measured 230 with the tees up. He has 15 yards to the left hole location. The chip stops just 3 feet, 1 inch from the hole but Woods can’t convert – watching in frustration as the ball does a horseshoe and refuses to fall. Woods is now 1 over.
“I’m not liking what I’m seeing so far,” Golf Channel analyst Mark Lye says. “That divot was going 30 yards left of the target.”
3:35 p.m. ET: The second hole wasn't as kind to Tiger. He hit his tee shot to the right and the ball landed in the middle bunker in a cluster of three. He then hit his approach into a trap short of the green, leaving a lengthy bunker shot of 25 yards.
Things only got worse from there with Tiger leaving it in the sand before pitching out to 3 feet, 2 inches to set up a bogey. Woods is now back to even par – but on the upside for Woods, no one else in the group is under par, either.
Woods has now hit into 25 bunkers in his last 38 holes.
3:25 p.m. ET: It was an impressive opening hole for Tiger. After busting his drive up the left side, Woods stuck a wedge to near kick-in distance just behind the hole to set up an easy birdie from 3 feet, 4 inches on the 422-yard par 4.
Before teeing off, Woods' coach Sean Foley said if Woods could take the shots he was hitting on the range this morning to the course, look out. It's only one hole, but Woods was near perfect.
3:10 p.m. ET: Woods was second off the tee after Oosthuizen. He addressed the ball and then backed off, looking grimly over towards the crowd and likely eyeing a trigger-happy photographer. He composed himself, stood back over the ball and proceeded to hit a low draw down the left side of the fairway.
Woods, who hit it 279 yards, outdrove Cantlay by 4. The UCLA sophomore is playing in his fifth PGA TOUR event this summer and has finished 24th or better in each one.
Minutes before Woods teed off, Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo put the day in perspective. “I’ve got to take the words from Sean Foley,” Nobilo said. “He used the phrase,’This isn’t a return to golf for Tiger, it’s a new start.’”
Woods has never played in the Frys.com Open but the veteran, who has been practicing in South Florida for the last eight weeks, should be used to the terrain and the cool weather in the Bay area after attending Stanford.
2:45 a.m. ET: Woods just made his way over to the putting green, where again the gallery is two and three deep -- remember this is also the first time Woods is playing here. The first two putts Woods took? He jarred them from about 15 feet. As much trouble as he's had with the driver or even his iron play at times, the putter is what's plagued him the most this year.
2:15 p.m. ET: Tiger Woods has arrived at the range here at CordeValle, where the temperature is only in the 50s with clouds and scattered showers in the area. Woods is wearing a white long sleeve mock turtleneck under a blue sweater vest. Behind Woods is his coach Sean Foley, who has his ever present camera with him to record Woods' swing.
One thing is clear: Even though Woods has fallen to 51st in the world -- he's the fourth-highest ranked player in the field -- he's still the main draw. The line of fans along the railing at the driving range is three and four deep.