Following his opening-round 70, Tiger Woods reflects on his play in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGATOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- The Memorial Tournament came around at a perfect time for Tiger Woods.
After winning Jack Nicklaus' event four times, the former No. 1 certainly has a comfort zone at Muirfield Village. The confidence born of that affinity, coupled with the work he's put in since tying for 40th at THE PLAYERS Championship three weeks ago, paid off on Thursday, too, with a 70 that left him one stroke off the lead.
“I think I was just consistent all day,’ Woods said. “I didn't do anything great and I didn't do anything poorly, I was just very consistent. And I think with the golf course being the way it's set up, you just have to be that way. You have to drive the ball well, you have to position it on these greens, and you're going to have to make some tough putts. There's no two ways around it.”
The round of 2 under was Woods' 35th sub-par tally in 47 trips around Nicklaus' signature creation. The resilient Woods, who battled back from a double bogey at the 18th hole, his ninth of the day, hit nine fairways, 12 greens and used 28 putts.
"I think the golf course was playing quick today," Woods said.
"The fairways were starting to chase a little bit. The greens were
... somewhat receptive. They're making ball marks, but the
thing is they're running out. These greens have got to be near 14
(on the Stimpmeter).
"It's a hell of a test out there, really. And then the wind is picking up a little bit. Hopefully we don't get too much rain, and this golf course plays quick the entire week."
Another positive? Woods also birdied three of the four par 5s, which tied the second round of THE PLAYERS for his best performance on those holes in his last 11 rounds. He played the par 5s in 1 under at the Masters, where he tied for 40th, and made just two birdies in the eight he played at Quail Hollow before missing only the eighth cut of his career.
On Thursday, though, Woods prospered on the par 5s. After missing an 11-footer for birdie at the 11th hole, Woods two-putted the 15th from 21 feet, tapped in from 13 inches at No. 5 and made an 8-footer at the seventh. His other birdie came at the 17th hole where he made a 14-footer.
"Well, I haven't played the par 5s particularly well the last few tournaments, and today was a good example," Woods said. "I played them great. The one on 11 should have been a birdie, as well. I hit two really nice shots in there. I feel very pleased with the way I hit the golf ball all day, and it was nice to actually play the par 5s under par for a change."
Woods' lone blemish came at the 18th hole where found the cluster of fairway bunkers to the right off the tee, hit his second to the left of the green and dumped his third into the greenside bunker. He blasted out to 11 feet and two-putt for the 6.
"I stuck it in the ground with the 5-wood and hit it out to the right and tried to make sure I missed it left coming out of that bunker and overcooked that one," Woods said. "Then I got thrown off a little bit out of my rhythm. I was ready to go and waiting for whoever it was to tee off, I think it might have been Jason, and backed off twice, and I was kind of ready, ready, ready. And then unfortunately when it was my turn to go, I wasn't anywhere near as focused as I needed to be for that shot, and I paid the price for it."
Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard earlier this year but has two ties for 40th and a missed cut in his three starts since the victory. Asked whether he thought he was returning to form, Woods said "absolutely."
He’ll take next week off, then play four of the next seven
events, two of which are major championships. Another World Golf
Championships is on the horizon, too, along with the PGA TOUR
Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"That's one of the reasons why I didn't do a whole lot at the beginning of the year is we have a lot of golf to be played during the summer and in the fall, especially with the Ryder Cup at the end of it," Woods said. "We don't get any breaks, so we have a lot of golf to be played. And there's a lot of big events."