Woods rebounds from slow start to share lead at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
October 24, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods' Round 1 highlights from ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
Tiger Woods started his opening round at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP with a tee shot into the water. He ended it with a share of the lead in Japan’s first official PGA TOUR event.
It appeared the leaked opening shot was going to be a bad omen for the 81-time PGA TOUR winner, as he made bogey and then followed it up with two more bogeys on the next two holes.
The optimism that comes with a new season had already vanished as he sat 3 over through as many holes.
Time off since mid-August had allowed many to forget Woods' form since his imperial win at the Masters in April. Most had shelved the memories of him missing the cut in half of his six starts and failing to make the TOUR Championship. But all the positive thoughts came flooding back after this scrappy opening.
Was his knee giving him trouble after the recent arthroscope? Or maybe the fused back was causing an issue? What about that oblique muscle that sent him out of the opening event of last season's FedExCup Playoffs?
Nope. It was none of those. It was just a little rust.
Woods set about tearing Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club apart with nine birdies over his last 14 holes to shoot a 6-under 64.
As quickly as people were writing him off, they were back all-in and handing Woods his record-tying 82nd TOUR win, despite there being three rounds remaining.
When all was said and done, the 43-year-old was tied at the top with Presidents Cup hopeful Gary Woodland and one ahead of local hero Hideki Matsuyama. Sam Snead’s TOUR record of 82 wins is certainly under threat.
“I certainly was not expecting to shoot 6-under-par after that start,” Woods said.
“That was a very ugly start and I felt that if I could get to under par for the day after that start, I figure most of the guys would be about 2-, 3-under-par with the wind blowing as hard as it was today, that I wouldn't be that far behind. But it flipped and I got hot and made a bunch of putts.”
While his score was a surprise, Woods says his crisp ball-striking was not. With the knee issue from last season behind him, he is able to swing freely.
“I was trying to make compensations. Unfortunately, with the lack of movement that I had in my knee, my back took it and that's the last place I want to feel it,” he explained.
“So it was nice to be able to feel that I'm able to rotate a little bit better, able to clear better, and more importantly, be able to squat down and read putts. I was able to get down there today, which I've been doing at home, and that's something that if you look at the video towards the end of the season, I wasn't able to do very well.”
Woods started on the 10th hole, and after the opening three blemishes that came from water, sand and putting troubles, he caught fire. There were birdies at 14, 15 and 16 and he went within a whisker of an eagle on 18 to turn in 1 under.
The two-time FedExCup champion shot 29 on the front side with five birdies, a number that could have easily been higher, such was his ball-striking through that section.
With weather issues predicted for Friday’s second round, the tee times have been moved up an hour, but play could still be affected. As such, Woods was preparing himself for a long weekend where extra holes in a day could easily be a factor.
“It’s going to be sloppy and tough for us tomorrow morning before the storm gets in and I think we’re probably going to get a little bit wet while we’re playing out there tomorrow and then it’s going to be a grind on the weekend,” Woods said.
“Hopefully I can keep it going.”