DUBLIN, Ohio – All things considered, Tiger Woods was at least at peace with his wild opening walk at the Memorial.
The 172nd-ranked player managed just two pars on his opening nine, along with two birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey-6 at the 18th hole after pushing his tee shot out of bounds. To put that in context, Woods’ drive was the only tee shot to find the wrong side of the OB stakes on the 18th hole from the morning wave.
Things didn’t get much better from the tee on his closing loop (he started on No. 10), with Woods hitting just two of seven fairways coming in, but he showed signs of progress with clutch recovery shots and steady putting.
“I didn’t play very good today at all,” said Woods, who finished with a 1-over 73 thanks to an inward loop of 33 for his highest first round at Muirfield Village since an opening 74 in 2002. “I fought hard.”
Woods explained after his round the swing he and “consultant” Chris Como have been working on is different than the one he used to tie for 69th place last month at The Players.
While the five-time Memorial winner explained the action produces much more “flush” shots, it also leads to some concerning inconsistencies.
“I can hit it either way; we have to fix it,” Woods said.
Consider that Woods missed five fairways on his closing nine, three to the right and three to the left. The most surprising of those miscues was at the par-5 seventh hole that was so far left that he hit a provisional fearing he’d sailed another attempt out of bounds.
The seventh is also where Woods appeared to be at his grinding best, punching his second shot (he didn’t go out of bounds) under a tree and converting a 4-footer for his fifth birdie of the day. It was the same number of birdies Jordan Spieth made on Thursday, although the Masters champion finished at 4 under and was one stroke off the early lead.
Woods, who said he was “mentally beat up” following his round, is playing just his fifth PGA Tour event since he announced he was working with Como in November and added that it’s important that he focus on the new action and not revert back to old “patterns” when things aren’t going well on the golf course.
“I’ve gone through phases like this in the past, sometimes it’s taken a year [for a new swing to click]. When it turns around I’ve had periods where I’ve played well for four, five years,” said Woods, who needed just 11 putts on his final nine holes.
Woods tees off at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday for Round 1.