DUBLIN, Ohio – At his best, Tiger Woods made golf look simple, bordering on boring. Woods took flashiness out of his opening round at the Memorial Thursday at Muirfield Village, perhaps a sign of turning the corner by turning back the clock.
Woods shot 2-under 70, making four birdies – three on par-5 holes. The other birdie came on No. 17, his eighth hole and the longest par-4 on the course.
At one point in his career, Woods picked apart the lengthiest holes on the course more consistently than any other player. However, Woods has not been in the top 30 in par-5 scoring since 2009. Despite playing the par 5s under par all four rounds at The Players Championship, Woods criticized his recent work.
'I haven't played the par 5s particularly well the last few tournaments,' Woods said. '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.'
The only blip on the scorecard was a careless double-bogey 6 at No. 18, his ninth hole of the round. Woods pushed his tee shot right, then left his approach short and left. Having to back off twice to wait for a group on the adjacent 10th tee, Woods flubbed his third shot into a bunker.
'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,' he said.
Woods needed 28 putts, which is a double-edged statistic. With so many chances for birdie inside 20 feet, Woods gave himself ample opportunity to score although fewer fell than he would have liked. Woods had a dozen chances inside 20 feet for birdie or better, but converted just three. His longest made putt was 13 feet.
'These greens are at a pace where it's hard to get the ball close, and you're going to have some tough ones out there,' he said.
Largely patient through the morning, even as the putts continued to clip edges and slide by, Woods had a moment to vent.
On his 16th hole, Woods yelled an expletive at himself after his approach to the par-5 seventh hole. A bunker shot and a 10-foot putt later, Woods had made birdie.
Perhaps the most noteworthy event of Woods' round didn't happen to him. On No. 13, a woman suddenly collapsed and eventually received medical attention for low blood sugar.
As the round wore on, Woods' hands went to his face frequently to rub his sinuses. The cottonwood in the air was giving him fits. He had a similar issue in his last start at The Players, donning sunglasses to protect his eyes.
Unlike the fainted fan, Woods didn't need medical attention for his nagging pollen problem – only something to wipe his nose.
'Well, thank God I had a big towel,' he quipped.