Tiger's wild Thursday ride at THE PLAYERS
Two-time tournament champion at TPC Sawgrass shoots 2-under 70 in Round 1
March 14, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods sticks tee shot to set up birdie at No. 17 at THE PLAYERS
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Tiger Woods produced a fairly innocuous opening nine holes in his opening round at THE PLAYERS Championship before sending his fans on a wild ride with an eventful back nine at TPC Sawgrass.
Woods traded one bogey and birdie on the front side of Pete Dye’s Stadium Course to turn even par but carded just a single par on his final nine holes.
Five birdies and three bogeys meant the 80-time PGA TOUR winner signed for a 2-under 70 to sit five shots off the pace set by England’s Tommy Fleetwood and fellow American Keegan Bradley.
In his first event since a neck injury kept him from playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Woods seemed to be moving freely.
“I felt like I could have got something in the 60s today and got off to not actually the best of starts today,” Woods said.
“I hit some bad shots early, rectified that, made a few adjustments, and then went about my business, and then the back nine, there's nine holes on the back nine, made one par, so that was interesting.
“Usually if I had one par it's usually shooting 30 or 29, not what I did today.”
Indeed it was a roller coaster ride.
Importantly, the two-time FedExCup champion's putter was swinging relatively freely in his first round since bringing in putting coach Matt Killen after back-to-back tournaments with six three-putts.
While Woods needed 30 putts on his round, he gained 1.976 shots on the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, ranking 16th.
There were no three-putts this time out, but things could still have been much better.
Among his highlights, Woods made birdie putts from 13, 15, 17 and 27 feet.
But he also missed putts from 4, 8, 9, 10 and 11 feet during his round.
“I felt like I rolled it today. I felt like I was able to get up there, and I felt comfortable. I was able to rip it, and I felt pretty good,” Woods said of his work on the greens.
“It wasn't like I had to do a lot. I just got back into something that I do naturally. I putt with the toe moving and toe releasing. My face moves a lot more than most players do, and we just went back to that.
“I feel like I can go ahead and hit it with my right hand again. That's how I've always putted. I always had a lot of hit in my stroke, and that felt good again.”
The 43-year-old was hoping for calmer conditions Friday morning after the afternoon wave dealt with some blustery periods.
“All the low rounds seemed like were predominantly in the morning,” he said.
“Hopefully we can catch it on the calm side and some smoother greens and post a low number and then see if the guys have to face what we had to face in the afternoon with the wind moving pretty good.”
Tiger Woods jars 28-footer for birdie at THE PLAYERS