Tiger grinds out 2-under 70 in Round 1Tiger Woods shot under par in his opening round on the South Course for the first time since 2013
January 24, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
SAN DIEGO – The Farmers Insurance Open used to be an annual display of Tiger Woods’ dominance. Then early exits and questions about his health became the dominant theme.
Thursday’s opening round at the Farmers Insurance Open served as confirmation. His 2-under 70 on Torrey Pines’ brutish South Course showed that Woods can pick up where he left off in his last official PGA TOUR event, the TOUR Championship.
It’s been four months since he induced pandemonium at East Lake. He struggled in his handful of rounds since then, but on Thursday he erased questions that arose after poor performances at the Ryder Cup and Hero World Challenge.
Given the opportunity to build back his strength in the offseason, Woods looks ready to resume his pursuit of Sam Snead’s victories record. Woods was understandably rusty, but there were plenty of promising signs.
He accomplished something Thursday that he had not done in six years. This was the first time since 2013 that Woods shot under par in his opening round on the South Course. He won that week.
The leaderboard will show that Woods sits outside the top 50, but that is deceptive because of the two courses in use this week. The South Course was more than two strokes harder than the shorter North on Thursday.
“A couple under par on the South course is not something to sneeze at, but now I have to shoot a low one tomorrow,” Woods said.
While Jon Rahm leads after shooting 62, no one shot lower than 66 on the South.
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Woods hit half of his fairways while hitting driver off most tees. Last season, the South Course had the hardest fairways to hit (48 percent). He hit 12 of 18 greens on Thursday, as well, but made just four putts longer than 3 feet Thursday.
“I felt pretty comfortable with everything today,” Woods said. “I felt like I drove it halfway decent today and irons were good but not great. Playing at competitive speed again, I didn't quite hit all my irons pin high like I normally do. That's something hopefully I'll have a better handle on tomorrow. It was nice to have some juice flow in the system again, it's been a while.”
All four came on the South Course’s par-5s, where he had to work hard to make birdie. All of his birdie putts on those holes were longer than 10 feet, including a 29-footer on the 13th hole. He had to lay up three times.
His only other birdie came after he knocked his tee shot stiff on one of the South Course’s hardest holes. Woods hit a low, piercing iron to 3 feet on the 215-yard 11th hole. The average proximity on that hole was 36 feet. Only eight other players birdied the hole Thursday.
Woods started his round by splitting the first fairway with a driver. He hit his approach shot to 25 feet and two-putted for par. He bogeyed the next hole, though, after missing both the fairway and the green.
It was the first of three consecutive misses from 10-15 feet. The latter two were for birdie. He missed another makeable birdie putt, from 20 feet on the fifth hole.
He got back to even par at the par-5 sixth hole, where he holed a 10-foot putt from the fringe to complete an up-and-down from the greenside bunker.
He made birdie the hard way on the par-5 ninth to make the turn in 35. Woods was left with a 166-yard approach shot after driving into the rough. He reached 2 under par after his birdie at No. 11, but he missed a 6-foot par putt on the next hole.
Woods hit the fairway on 13, but he laid up from 293 yards. His 100-yard approach went long and didn’t spin back after landing in the fringe. He made the long, downhill putt, though.
He grinded out pars on 14 and 15 after missing the fairway. He made another bogey on 16 after pushing his tee shot into a bunker. He had to lay up on 18 after missing another fairway, but he wedged to 12 feet and curled in the putt to close with another birdie. He gained a half-stroke on the greens Thursday.
Shot of the Day
Tiger Woods sinks a lengthy birdie putt for Shot of the Day