Woods started strong in his first competitive round in nearly 16 months, rolling off three straight birdies to reach 4-under through eight holes and briefly share the lead. But he bogeyed the next hole, and after a watery double bogey on No. 18 he ended up 17th among the 18-man field.
“It felt good to have that adrenaline surging through the system again. It’s been a long time,” Woods said. “To get up there on that first hole and feel it again and then dumb it down to be able to control it and get into my feel where I play my best, that was nice. I got it pretty quick. “
Woods authored several highlights, notably accurate approaches that led to a trio of birdies on Nos. 6-8. But he also had some rough patches, taking an unplayable lie from a bush on No. 11 and playing backwards from another bush on No. 16 after an errant approach.
Woods’ chief concern appears to be his new TaylorMade driver, as he found just six of 13 fairways and had several misses left of the intended target.
“I was trying to hit some pull-cuts out there,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing in changing equipment, the shots aren’t the same so my misses are a little bit different.”
Woods trails leader J.B. Holmes by nine shots after the opening round, but he realizes that there is a bigger picture in play this week at Albany Golf Club.
“I just made some really, if you look at it, some really silly mistakes,” he said. “Mistakes I don't normally make, but I haven't played in a while. Unfortunately, I made those mistakes, I can clean that up. We've got three more days.”