BETHESDA, Md. – If this week’s tournament at Congressional is akin to a rehab start for Tiger Woods then Thursday’s opening round was a carbon copy of Wednesday’s pro-am.
Woods opened with a 3-over-par 74 in his first PGA Tour start since having back surgery on March 31, a round that wasn’t as bad as the scorecard indicated and defined by a sloppy start and solid finish.
The tournament host began his round on the par-3 10th and promptly carded back-to-back bogeys on his way to an outward loop of 4-over 39.
Bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3 dropped him to 6 over par, last among the players who had started their rounds, but he birdied three of his next six holes and was tied for 87th place when he completed his round.
“The score is not really indicative of how well I played,” Woods said. “I made so many mistakes.”
Conventional wisdom suggested that because Woods had been limited to only chipping and putting for much of the time since his surgery his short game would not be as rusty as his tee-to-green play, but he struggled early and often around the greens.
He bogeyed No. 15 after a poor chip to 12 feet, missed a 5-footer at the 16th hole for birdie and bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes after more poor chips.
“I hit some bad pitches,” said Woods, who hit 10 of 18 greens in regulation, nine of 14 fairways and needed 31 putts. “Those are the ones I should get up and down and I didn’t.”
There were positives on Thursday, however. Woods said he had no problem with his back throughout the day and planned to go home and rest before Friday’s second round, which begins at 1:12 p.m. ET off the first tee.
“The back is great,” he said. “No issues at all. No twitches or nothing. That’s why I let it go with a couple of drives.”